Tonight’s Preview: After a pair of losses in Wichita Falls last weekend, the Jackalopes look to avoid an opening round sweep as they host their first playoff game at Ector County Coliseum since April 10, 2012. The Jackalopes enter Friday’s tilt against the Wildcats as winners of three straight against the Wichita Falls on home ice after a regular season sweep in early February.
Last time Out: The Wichita Falls Wildcats exploded for five goals through the first two periods and used a Justin Kapelmaster 46-save shutout to take a 2-0 series lead with a 5-0 win Saturday night at Kay Yaeger Coliseum in Wichita Falls. Aleksi Poikola potted two first-period goals and his 2nd and 3rd of the series and Nikita Litviak netted his 2nd of the series to complete the three-goal first. In the 2nd, Nick Rosa and Garrett VanWyhe tallied their first of the series. Dean Shatzer took the loss lasting just seven minutes and eight seconds, allowing three goals on 12 shots.
Kapelmaster’s Clutch: Wildcats goaltender, and Ferris State (WCHA D1) commit, Justin Kapelmaster has carried over his franchise record 33 regular-season wins into the postseason, earning victories in both games thus far. Kapelmaster’s 5-0 win against the Jacks last Saturday was his first shutout of the playoffs and his fifth total shutout between the playoffs and regular season. Kapelmaster’s 33 regular-season wins were good for third among NAHL goalies while his goals-against average of 2.06 was fourth in the league and his .924 save percentage was third.
Dinged Up: Jacks power-forward Brennen Miller applied a check during the first period of Friday’s game that broke his orbital bone just under his left eye. The 20-year-old forward finished off the period and recorded an assist on Pierce Pluemer’s tally. Miller is expected to miss the remainder of the series and potentially the playoffs if the Jacks advance. In Saturday’s game, Odessa forward Connor Wood suffered an upper body injury after a missed check and is expected to be out of the lineup Friday. Last, Taylor Gatto suffered a lower-body injury in Saturday’s warm-ups and never appeared in the game. Gatto is expected to be dressed for game three.
Future Falcon: Jackalopes d-man Jake Levin has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Air Force Academy (Atlantic Hockey) and will begin his college career in 2017-18. The 19-year old (6-2/190) made his announcement Thursday and will join current teammate and fellow Wisconsin native Pierce Pluemer at the Academy. Levin had 3 goals and 10 assists in 52 regular season games, with 54 penalty minutes (PIM) and a plus-one rating. The first-year Jacks blueliner has zero points through two playoff games and a minus-two rating.
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.