ODESSA, TX— For a few agonizing minutes it looked like the game was going to overtime. An area of the game where Topeka excelled. The Jacks had given up the lead they had held since the first period and were poised to embark on another overtime thriller.
But after Zach Heintz drew a penalty on a breakaway attempt the Jacks had a chance to end the game early and put a dagger in the heart of the Pilots.
Thanks to Connor Fedorek’s goal with 55.5 seconds remaining, the Jackalopes did just that as they defeated the Topeka Pilots 2-1 to start their three-game series with Topeka with a win.
The Jackalopes started off the game strong with several quality chances offensively that failed to convert, but they had gained momentum. A little over midway through the first, Brenden Coughlin pinched in along the right-hand boards and sent a shot on net from the half-wall. In front was Kyle Herbster who reached out with his stick to deflect the puck in past Pilot net minder Emil Gansoe and give the Jacks a 1-0 lead.
The Jackalopes held that lead for the remainder of the first period as well as the entirety of the second as Jacks goaltender Kade Phipps made multiple saves on quality Topeka chances to keep the Pilots off the board.
The third period started much in the same fashion with Topeka pushing to even the score but Phipps keeping them at bay. The visitors broke through when Dallas Tulik took a shot that was initially handled by Phipps but ricocheted off his body. The rebound was gathered up by Tulik who deposited in into the back of the net.
Tulik’s goal came at the 10:01 mark of the third period with overtime looming.
Late in the game Zach Heintz drew a holding minor after he was taken down on a break-away attempt. On the ensuing power play the Jacks had several close calls but could not find the back of the net. After a failed clearing attempt by Topeka, Associate Captain Connor Fedorek gathered the puck at the blue line and sent a hard wrister towards the net. Fedorek’s shot found its way passed several bodies, including Gransoe’s into the net.
Fedorek’s first goal of the season came with less than a minute to play in regulation.
The Jackalopes held off a late Topeka surge to secure the 2-1 victory.
With the win, the Jackalopes improve to 5-8-1 on the year and 2-1 at the Ector County Coliseum.
The two teams will play again on Saturday night to continue the three-game series. Puck-drop is set for 7:11 pm. Fans who cannot make it to the game can listen on Classic Rock 102 fm or watch online on HockeyTV.com