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Preview: Jacks vs. Bulls (April 8)

Tonight’s Matchup: The Jacks welcome in the Amarillo Bulls for the final two regular-season games of the year. A win Friday would clinch the Jacks the final postseason spot in the South and Odessa’s first playoff appearance since 2011-12. The Jacks are 7-0-1 against the Bulls in 2015-16 and winners of two straight with an all-time record of 8-35-5.

Last Time Out: Jake Levin scored his second goal of the year, Dean Shatzer stopped 30 shots and Derek Brown and Hampus Sjodahl each scored in the shootout to earn both points last Saturday and a weekend split with the visiting Lone Star Brahmas.

Top Dawgs: Both Derek Brown and Hampus Sjodahl saw their seven-game point streaks snapped Saturday but the veteran forwards each scored in the shootout to earn a vital win. The top line of Gray Marr, Brown and Sjodahl have been arguably the leagues best accounting for 64 of the Jacks 177 goals, 113 of the teams 329 assists, and have combined for plus-minus differential of plus-29.

Mean Dean: Jacks goaltender Dean Shatzer has begun to hit his stride at the perfect time. The first year Jack has won three of his last four starts including wins in back-to-back games. In his last two games, Shatzer has stopped 76 of the 79 shots faced with a 1.44 goals-against average and .962 save percentage.

Jake The Snake: Jackalopes d-man Jake Levin scored Odessa’s only regulation goal Saturday and now has his lone two goals of the year in his last eight games. Levin has two goals and 10 assists on the year in 50 games with and even-rating.

The Boys Are Back: After serving an eight-game suspension for their involvement in the March 12th line brawl against Lone Star, Cooper Zech, and Taylor Gatto are eligible to return to the Jacks lineup Friday. Zech, a Fairbanks-Alaska (WCHA) commit, has six goals and 16 assists in 49 games played. Gatto, who will be healthy scratched Friday, has one goal and one assist in 22 games this year.

Playoff Push: The IceRays (25-28-6) 4-1 loss Thursday against Wichita Falls means a Jacks (26-28-4) win or Rays loss Friday secures Odessa its first playoff birth in four years and just their second as members of the NAHL. If Odessa were to make the playoffs it would match the Jacks against the top-seeded Wildcats in the first round of the NAHL South Division playoffs.

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.