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Game Preview: Jacks vs. Rays

Jacks (10-11-3) vs. Rays (10-14-3)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 – 7:05 p.m.

American Bank Center – Corpus Christi, TX

Tonight’s Matchup: The Jacks travel to the banks of the gulf coast for the first time this season as they take on the Corpus Christi Ice Rays for a pair of mid-week games at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Jacks are 2-1-1 vs. the IceRays this season after getting swept by the Rays at home on  December 3 and 4. Tha Jacks are 16-27-5 all-time versus the Rays since joining the NAHL in 2011.

Last Time Out: The Odessa Jackalopes wrapped up a disappointing homestand with a 5-2 loss back on December 12 against the Topeka RoadRunners. Topeka exploded for four opening period goals, ending starter Dean Shatzer’s night early. In the second period, Hampus Sjodahl collected his team-leading 13th goal, but the Runners countered with two more tallies to make it 5-1 after 40 minutes. In the final frame, Zach Zech netted his 8th of the year, but the Jacks early struggles proved too much to overcome falling to Topeka 5-2. Juho Niku (6-1-0) earned back-to-back wins in the weekend series, making 21 saves on 23 shots in game two.  Shatzer took the loss (4-7-2) making nine saves on 13 shots. Gunners rivers made 15 saves on 17 shots.

Winter Woes: Since the Jacks swept the IceRays on November 13th and 14th, Odessa has gone just 1-6-2 in their last nine games. The Jacks and Rays are tied for the fourth and final playoff spot in the South, but Odessa has three games in hand. The Jacks 24 games played is the least amount in all of the NAHL.

New Additions: During the Jacks 18-day holiday break the team made multiple roster moves. The Jacks have added forward Pierce Pluemer who was previously with the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL). Also, the team has released defenseman/forward Jason Watts and tendered Zach Heintz of the Fox Motors AAA (T1EHL U18). Also, forward Brennan Miller who Odessa acquired a month ago from the Melville Millionaires (SJHL) has joined the club for the trip to Corpus and could make his Jacks debut. Last, the team has removed defenseman Dakoda Menslage (hip) injured reserve and placed forward Taylor Gatto (head) on injured reserve.

Hellebuyck Blanks Pens: Former Jacks Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, 22, earned his first NHL shutout with a 1-0 victory over the Pittsburg Penguins Sunday night. Hellebuyck made 30 en route to his sixth NHL win (6-3-0). Hellebuyck backstopped Odessa to its lone postseason appearance in 2012, going 26-21-8 on the year, earning Rookie of the Year Honors.

Jackalopes Broadcast: Join the voice of the Jacks’ Nick Nollenberger live for every game on the Jacks’ flagship station Classic Rock 102.1 FM and fasthockey.com.