Close game finds Odessa just short in Amarillo

AMARILLO, TX – In the 110th meeting between the Odessa Jackalopes and the Amarillo Bulls, the contest did not disappoint its rich and hard-nosed heritage. There were fights, animosity, goals and big saves. However, the Jackalopes ended up on the wrong side of a one-goal game, despite a hard-fought battle, as they fell 4-3 to the Bulls on Friday night.

Amarillo was able to get on the board first off of a rebound out in front that was batted in for the first goal of the game. Odessa had a chance to tie on a short-handed rush up ice but could not find the rebound that came off the initial shot.

In the second period the Bulls extended their lead to 2-0 after one of the Bulls was able to chip the puck over Odessa goaltender Connor Hasley while the former was lying on his belly. Down 2-0, Odessa needed a big response and they got it a few minutes later from their captain.

Evan Orr, received a pass at the top of the left-circle and wired a shot in over the glove of Amarillo netminder Andrew Takacs to tally his first goal of 2021. The goal marked the first for the captain in nearly 25 games and gave Odessa new life down 2-1. The Jackalopes continued their relentless assault and were able to break through on the power play. A pass from Joey Musa found J.R. Perdion all alone in the slot and Perdion rifled a shot into the back of the net off a quick release. The goal marked Perdion’s second in as many games and tied the contest up at 2-2.

Then Odessa took the lead on a two-on-one rush up the ice a few minutes later. Connor Couet led the rush on the left side and shot the puck to produce a rebound off of Takacs’ pad. The puck came right to Musa who slid the puck into a wide-open net and gave Odessa their first lead of the night at 3-2.

The lead for Odessa lasted just three minutes as the Bulls were able to tie the game with 51 seconds to play in the middle period.

As the third period came around, the Jackalopes had an early opportunity to take the lead back as they were given a power play early. When Odessa was unable to score, the Bulls went back on the attack. A turnover in the neutral zone was forced and Amarillo was able to score on a shot in the high slot that beat Hasley clean. Cooper Black was then put into the game after the 4th goal and held off the Bulls as they attempted to extend their lead. Black finished the night with 7 saves in just over 14 minutes of work in relief for Hasley. The Jackalopes pressed hard in the remaining minutes, aided again by a power play in the late stages, but were unable to find a goal in the closing moments like they had in two of their last three games.

Though the loss stings, the Jackalopes again showed great resiliency in the second period to come back and erase a two-goal deficit. Special teams also had a strong night as the Odessa penalty kill was perfect for the third straight game in a row and the Jackalopes power play, though held off in the third period, was able to break through for the second straight night.

The Jackalopes will look to end their season with a win as they finish the regular season on Saturday night in Amarillo for the 111th and final meeting against the Amarillo Bulls.

Photo: Danne’ Braden Photography