ODESSA, TX — The Jackalopes opened 2020 with a 9-0 loss to Lone Star on January 3, they ended it on December 31 with a 6-3 victory against the Shreveport Mudbugs (9-2-1-1) at the Ector County Coliseum.
Odessa (7-6-2-0) started off with the first goal of the game as Mike Manzo, recently back from injury, sent a pass from the right half-wall over to a streaking Lucas Coon who buried the puck into the back of the net to give Odessa a 1-0 lead.
The Mudbugs struck back later in the first period however and after two quick goals were up on the Jacks 2-1.
But Odessa tied the game 2-2 late in the first period on the power play. A point-shot from Hunter Carrick produced a rebound that found the blade of Fletcher Anderson on the door-step. Anderson shot the rebound between the legs of Shreveport goaltender Cole Hudson to secure his fifth goal of the season.
In the second period, although the Jackalopes were out-shot, they outscored the Bugs. Evan Orr, the Jackalopes captain, was able to tally his first as a Jack after a nifty feed from Joey Musa in the low slot. Orr’s first made it 3-2 Odessa before Manzo added on another with his first goal and second point of the night to make it 4-2 after the second period.
In the third, the Jackalopes found themselves shorthanded after a penalty assessed late in the second period carried over into the third. In this critical point of the game, Odessa made a potentially game-changing play.
After blocking a point-shot, forward Isaiah Huempfner skated up ice quickly as Coon hurried up the ice with him on the off-wing. As Huempfner sent a pass forward for Coon, the Colorado native stole a march on the defenseman covering him and recovered the pass right on top of the crease. Evading Hudson’s poke-check, Coon pulled the puck to his fore-hand and rifled a shot in past the helpless netminder. Coon’s short-handed goal marked the first time the Jackalopes had scored a short-handed tally since the 2018-19 season and put the Jackalopes in command of the game 5-2.
The Mudbugs came back to make it interesting with a tally to trim the Odessa lead to 5-3, but this was later countered by Manzo’s empty-net-goal with just over two minutes remaining to secure a 6-3 victory.
The Jackalopes end December with a 3-1-2-0 record and against the top two teams in the South Division. Odessa will look to start 2021 on a high note on Friday, January 1 for the second of the three-game series against the Mudbugs.
Photo Credit: Danne´ Braden Photography