ODESSA, TX — For weeks the Jackalopes have been preaching about the need to get a strong and fast start to thier games. They got just that on Friday night at the Ector County Coliseum but in the end a dominating second period by the New Mexico Ice Wolves (13-23-1-2) erased a one goal lead and led to a 3-2 defeat of the Odessa Jackalopes (8-25-2-3).
Odessa started off hard and fast to open the contest and it showed early. The Jacks won board battles, races to loose pucks and mostly out-skated the Ice Wolves. The first goal of the night came off a turnover the Jacks forced in the offensive zone, eventually finding Isiah Huempfner at the left circle. Huempfner picked his spot and sent a hard shot on the ice that beat the New Mexico netminder between the legs. For Huempfner it was his second goal of the season and it game the Jackalopes a 1-0 lead.
The Ice Wolves responded just over a minute later, as they were the recipients of a fortunate bounce in the low slot that wound up going right to the New Mexico forward that had previously over-skated it. Tied 1-1 in the first period that Jackalopes persevered thought the opening period and were rewarded with a highlight reel goal by Fletcher Anderson.
While on the penalty kill, Anderson received a head-pass up from his own zone. Anderson streaked in on a shot-handed breakaway, after a quick head-fake, he rifled a shot in past the glove side to put Odessa back on top 2-1. The goal marked Anderson’s 11th of the season and just Odessa’s third short-handed goal of the year.
But the scoring ended in the first period for Odessa, as the Ice Wolves responded in the second period. The impetus for this was a five-minute power play after Joey Musa was given a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct in the early stages of the second period. The Ice Wolves wasted little time, making it a 2-2 game with a power-play tally less than a minute into the major penalty. The Jackalopes killed off the remaining time, but the Ice Wolves continued to press the advantage.
Late in the second, a turnover was forced in the Jackalopes zone by an aggressive two-man fore-check. The result was New Mexico forward Cole Hanson sending a quick pass down to the low slot for Nikoai Dulak who quickly sent a shot into the top shelf over the glove of Odessa netminder Connor Hasley. Thus, for the first time that evening, New Mexico lead the hokey game 3-2.
It was a lead that they held for the entirety of the third. The Jackalopes, despite two power plays and a 9-7 shot advantage in the third, were unable to find the equalizer. Hasley was excellent in the final frame making several important stops to give his team a chance to win.
Friday night’s game was just the second in seven games that the Jackalopes did not have their final score determined by the third, indeed it also marked the second straight night that Odessa out-shot an opponent in the third period.
The Jackalopes will look for the weekend split against New Mexico on Saturday night. It will by OHS night as the Jackalopes welcome the students, staff, band and cheerleaders of Odessa High School to the Ector County Coliseum. Face-off is set for 7:15 pm.
Photo Credit: Danne´ Braden Photography