SHREVEPORT, LA — The final score was not indicative of the effort and the play of the Odessa Jackalopes on Saturday night. The Jackalopes fell 3-0 to the Shreveport Mudbugs at George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum.
A scoreless first period was highlighted by chances at both ends and incredible saves by Jackalopes goaltender Andrew Takacs. The biggest one was when he robbed former Jack Matt Hutton point-blank on the left side of the net while spread out in the splits. Hutton got several close-in shots off but Takacs stopped them both.
The second period was much the same as the first, high intensity, plenty of chances and more spectacular saves by Takacs. The Jackalopes survived several goal-mouth scrambles in front during the second period as the Mudbugs sent shot after shot toward the Dunkirk, Maryland native. Still Takacs held strong. While the Jacks could not find the back of the net, they did an excellent job winning draws in their own end while breaking the puck out of their own zone efficiently, thus taking pressure off the defense.
It was on one of the few times the Jackalopes failed to clear that ended up costing them. Shreveport scored off a goalmouth scramble where Takacs made the first and the second save but could not stop the third. The goal coming in the final minute of the second period, the Jackalopes found themselves down 1-0 going into the third.
In the third period the Jackalopes start strong and played with confidence but still could not solve Shreveport goaltender Maiszon Balboa. The Jackalopes, on their sixth penalty kill of the game finally gave up their first power play goal of the weekend as the Mudbugs extended their lead to 2-0 off a shot from the left point.
Up until that time, the Jackalopes penalty kill had successfully weathered 12 consecutive kills dating back to their earlier series in New Mexico in mid-February.
After Shreveport’s lead extended to 3-0 off an unfortunate bounce off the end-boards, tempers started to flare. Of the 160 penalty minutes that were assessed in the game, 142 of them came in the third period. The highlight for the Jackalopes was Nick Grimaldi fighting, and holding his own, against Dilan Peters who stood almost a foot taller than the Jackalopes forward. The fight animated the Jackalopes bench and inspired them to persevere for the remainder of the hockey game.
Despite the loss, the Jackalopes showed great heart and resolve to close out the weekend. They now stand ready to host Shriner’s Weekend against the Topeka Pilots on Friday and Saturday March 6 and 7 at the Ector County Coliseum.
Photo: Danne’ Braden Photography