Jacks (11-15-4) vs. Runners (21-14-1)
Friday, January 15, 2016 — 7:05 PM
Kansas ExpoCentre — Topeka, Kansas
Tonight’s Matchup: The Odessa Jackalopes travel to Kansas ExpoCentre for the first time this season as they try to avenge their two worse loses of the year at home against the RoadRunners on December 11 and 12. Odessa enters the three-game series with a 6-22-2 record against the RoadRunners all-time and is 2-2-0 this season against the Runners.
Last Time Out: The Odessa Jackalopes allowed the Lone Star Brahmas to recapture the lead after tying the game 1-1 in the second and never managed another goal, falling in a tightly contested battle, 4-1, Friday night at NYTEX Sports Centre in Richland Hills, TX. In the first period, Lone Star pushed the offensive pace, but Dean Shatzer stole the show with multiple highlight reel saves to keep it 0-0 after one. Lone Star broke the deadlock when Joseph Fallon exploded past the Jacks defence and snuck a nifty deke past Shatzer's left pad at 5:44. Odessa was able to tie the game when John Zimmerman was charged with a tripping call, and Drew McLean made the Brahmas pay, with his third of the year and second in as many nights, on a shot from the point (9:04). Lone Star regained the lead on their third power play when Martin Mellberg (9) ripped a shot from the point past a screened Shatzer at 16:42. Odessa ended the second period being outshot 20-to-9 in the game and 12-to-4 in the second. In the final frame, the Brahmas put the game away when Dalton Skelly (3) collected a cross-ice pass and poked it home after it raddled between a few skates in the crease (11:48). Peter Kessel (11) sealed the win with an empty-netter at 18:40. Dean Shatzer (4-8-3) took the hard-luck loss, making 24 saves on 27 shots while Corbin Kaczperski (14-5-2) made 11 saves on 12 shots to earn his seventh straight win. Each team ended the game 1-for-3 on the power play while the Jacks were outshot 28-to-12 in the game.
Reeling Runners: The last time the Jacks and Runners met up, Topeka was red-hot and winners of seven straight. This time, the RoadRunners have lost three in a row and have made a shocking coaching change, relieving the duties of head coach Scott Langer, who was with the team for its first nine years of existence. Former Jacks GM Joe Clark has since been named interim general manager. Josh Kamrass, the step-son of RoadRunners owner Don Stone and a former player for Topeka, was named interim head coach.
Battle Brothers: Zach and Cooper Zech won’t be the only pair of brothers in Fridays' game between the RoadRunners and Jackalopes. Jacks forward Jon Russell, 17, will battle against his older brother Marcus who is a forward for the RoadRunners. The two played against one-another in the match-up in early December. In the first series, Jon had a pair of assists while Marcus netted a goal. Thus far, Jon has six points in 11 games with Odessa while Marcus is second on the Runners in goals (11) in 33 games played.
Power-Play Surge: The Jacks entered last weekend's series with Lone Star with one power-play goal in their last 10-games, but Odessa flipped a recent trend by netting three goals on the man advantage over two games. The Jackalopes are still second to last in goals scored on the power play (17) in the NAHL. Odessa has the least amount of power plays in the league (106), but the recent success has bumped the Jacks to 13th most efficient power-play unit in the league (16.0%).
Drew Crew: Jacks third-year d-man Drew McLean, 21, buried a pair of goals on the power play last weekend at Lone Star. The Waterford, MI native now has 15 points (3 goals, 12 assists) and a -2 rating in 30 games.
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