‘Cats outlast Jacks 5-4 in thrilling fashion



Feb. 1, 2013



Portner tallies twice in final minutes, but ONeil’s late score lifts Wichita Falls.


ODESSA, TX– In the middle clash of a three-game weekend set, the Odessa Jackalopes, trailing by four goals entering the third period, stormed back into contention, scoring back-to-back-to-back unanswered goals in the final frame, but ultimately succumbed to the Wichita Falls Wildcats in regulation by a 5-4 final score Friday at Ector County Coliseum. With the loss, the Jacks fell to 6-34-2 overall this season and with 14 points, remain alone in sixth place in the NAHL’s South Division standings.

Fresh off a 6-2 Thursday win over the Jacks, the fifth-place Wildcats opened up a 4-0 lead on Odessa through two Friday periods, courtesy of first period goals from Will Vosejpka and Conor ONeil and a pair of second-frame scores from Colin Staub and Taylor Ledford, but things changed in a big way come the final stanza.

After a flat start to the third period, the Jacks started a ferocious comeback at 8:26, when Odessa captain Lawrence Cornellier fought through a maelstrom of defenders deep in the Wildcat slot and willed an in-tight poke past Wichita Falls netminder Evan Cowley to make it 4-1 with Josh Racek and Zane Popilock picking up assists on the play.

The Odessa surge continued at 15:22, when Matt Volonnino lugged a puck from deep in his own zone through the left side of center and, despite fanning on his release, coaxed a transition wrister past Cowley to draw the Jackalopes within a pair at 4-2. Energized by their good fortune, the Jacks kept at it and were rewarded at 17:07 when Taylor Portner wired a one-time slapper past Cowley on a Cornellier feed from the right corner to make it 4-3, but a late defensive-zone lapse cost Odessa dearly when ONeil found a way to worm himself free at 18:05 and slide his second goal of the night under Odessa goaltender Nick Deery’s left leg to push the Wildcat lead back to two.

Pulling the goalie immediately following ONeil’s tally, the Jacks were able to churn out one final goal at 18:30 when  Portner cleaned up a partially-blocked Chris Taff shot from the left point, but a furious, empty-net scramble saw time run out on Odessa, as the Jacks dropped their third consecutive game, and fourth straight to Wichita Falls, this time in decidedly dramatic and memorable fashion.

Next up for the Jacks, it’s the Saturday capper on a three-game weekend series against the Wildcats with the opening faceoff set for 7:05 pm at Ector County Coliseum in the finale of “Pink in the Rink” weekend.

In 2012-13, the Odessa Jackalopes drop the puck on their second season as a member of the North American Hockey League. Season ticket packages for the Jacks’ sophomore campaign are available now starting at just $179. To reserve your seats, contact the Jackalopes’ ticket office today at 432-552-7825 or log on to www.jackalopes.org for more information.

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.