ODESSA, TX — Coming into Friday night the Jackalopes had never won a game when tied after two periods. They had never won in overtime, having played just three games post-regulation. They had never beaten the Topeka Pilots this season either. That all changed on Friday.
On the opening night of Shriner’s Weekend, the Odessa Jackalopes (9-38-1-1) defeated the Topeka Pilots (32-14-3-2) with a comeback 3-2 overtime victory at the Ector County Coliseum.
In order the reach overtime the Jackalopes had to first erase two separate deficits. The first came in the early stages of the first period as Topeka took a 1-0 lead after penning the Jacks in their own zone.
Odessa responded several minutes later as Hunter Olson, from below the goal line, found Sam Harris streaking into the low slot. Olson fed Harris with a pass and he quickly riffled a low shot in between the pads of Topeka goaltender Josh Langford.
The second period saw a tied 1-1 game get even closer as the Jackalopes faced shot after shot from Topeka. Though the Jackalopes defense at times bent, it did not break. The Jacks showed great resolve in killing off a five-on-three late in the second. Odessa’s penalty killers, who have been exceptional the last few weekends, were once again exceptional on Friday.
The third period however, did not start off the Jackalopes’ way. Whilst on the power play, a costly turn-over became a short-handed goal against as the Pilots jumped to a 2-1 lead. The Jackalopes tried but failed to convert on several ensuing power plays after that. It was here that the game turned.
Instead of getting down at their lack of success, the Jackalopes persevered. Stringing several good shifts together, Odessa started to get opportunities in the offensive zone. With just 98 seconds remaining in regulation, one of those opportunities became a goal.
Jackalopes defenseman Spencer Kimball deflected a shot from Harris into the back of the net to record his first goal of the season. It couldn’t have been any bigger as the Jacks once again tied the game and soon were heading to overtime for just the fourth time this season.
Topeka was a veteran overtime team, but it was the Jackalopes who played like veterans in the extra session. They possessed the puck well right from the opening face-off. Soon, Topeka was chasing and took an ill-advised tripping penalty. The Jackalopes had their chance and they made the most of it.
After receiving a pass from a defenseman Olson streaked past the top of the right circle and sent a shot on net. After the initial save, the puck rebounded out front and a mad-scramble in the crease ensued. Harris, who had a Pilot nearly draped around him, was able to locate and swipe in the rebound netting his second goal of the game and the Jackalopes the overtime victory.
The Jackalopes, with the win, are now on a two-game home winning streak. They will look to complete their first home sweep of the season on Saturday night against the Pilots. Face-off is set for 7:15 pm.