BLAINE, MN–In the first game of their 15th Anniversary season, the Odessa Jackalopes officially began their NAHL era Wednesday with a hard-fought 2-1 loss to the Springfield Jr. Blues in the first game of the 9th annual NAHL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, MN.
Riding high in the wake of a 3-2 exhibition win over the Corpus Christi IceRays on Sunday, the Jacks came out firing in their first NAHL contest, peppering Springfield netminder Connor Girard with 12 shots on goal in the first period alone. However, it was Springfield that drew first blood, taking a 1-0 lead on a Ben Kramer wrister at 11:02 of the first period. Quick to respond, the Jacks answered back less than two minutes later when Jacks forward Sheldon Taylor beat Girard high to the glove side for his first goal of the season, tying the game at one apiece.
After a back-and-forth, scoreless second period, the game was decided on a broken play at 12:36 of the third. Just seconds after the Jacks’ third successful penalty kill of the game, Springfield’s Josef Pontasch finished off a nice feed from Kyle Cook to put the Jr. Blues up 2-1, a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
Among the game’s most outstanding players was Odessa goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. The 6’4” Michigan native made 30 saves Wednesday, displaying outstanding rebound control and making a pair of breakaway stops in the first and second periods.
The Jacks will try to right the ship on Thursday, as they take on the Traverse City North Stars at 2:30 pm in the second of four NAHL Showcase games the Jacks will play this week. All regular season and playoff games are broadcast live on Classic Rock 102.1 FM in Odessa with ‘Voice of the Jacks’ Tony Brown providing the play-by-play.
The Odessa Jackalopes celebrate their 15th Anniversary in 2011-12 and drop the puck on their inaugural campaign as a member of the North American Hockey League. Season tickets, mini-plans, and single game tickets are available by calling (432) 552-7825 or visiting jackalopes.org.
Be sure to follow the Jackalopes on Twitter @LetsGoJacks all season long, and don’t forget to ‘Like’ the official “Odessa Jackalopes” fan page on Facebook.
— ODESSA JACKALOPES —