ODESSA, TX — Frustrating would likely be the word of choice for Saturday night’s result. It was frustrating that the Jackalopes fell behind 1-0 in the second period. It was frustrating that their 2-1 lead was erased by two quick goals by New Mexico in the third. It was frustrating that their miraculous comeback with under two minutes to go was all four nought as the Jackalopes (8-16-2-2) fell to the Ice Wolves (7-18-1-1) by a score of 4-3 at the Ector County Coliseum.
After a scoreless first period the Jackalopes fell behind in the second period in the early goings. But Odessa showed good resiliency as they settled in, killed a penalty and went back on the attack. The tying goal came off of the stick of Kyle VanCompernolle as a bouncing puck found him at the side of the cage and he made sure that puck crossed the goal line for his second goal of the season.
Exactly two minutes later the Jackalopes took their first lead of the game. Charlie Banquier led a two-on-one rush up the ice with rookie Jack Musa. After skating in on the left side, Banquier fed a picture perfect pass over to Musa who went upstairs with his quick release to net his second goal of the season and put the Jackalopes squarely in the drivers seat.
It seemed that the Jacks would ride out the third period to their second straight win, but the Ice Wolves had other plans. Two back-to-back goals in less than two minutes put New Mexico back in front and the Jackalopes behind the eight-ball.
Odessa had several opportunities on a late power play to score but came up empty.
It came down to the final two minutes, when Jimmy Rayhill, the defenseman, pinched in low below the right circle and came up to the near-side post. Rayhill was able to back-hand a puck into the net with under two minutes to play to tie the contest up 3-3.
The Jackalopes went to overtime for just the second time in 2021. Like the third period, Odessa had several great chances to score and end the game. The best was a break-away in the mid stages of the extra session. But eventually, the game required a shootout to decide a winner. New Mexico was able to score on their third shooter while the Jackalopes were all stonewalled.
Despite the loss, the Jackalopes did finish the weekend series with three out of a possible four points and made a small step forward in capturing a post-season berth. But perhaps the biggest accomplishment of this weekend was the strides that this team has shone. The play on the ice is night and day from a few weeks ago when the Jacks were in the grip of a massive winless streak. Confidence is starting to build in players, and a belief that things can and will turn in Odessa’s favor. If nothing else, there is a victory in that.
Photo Credit: Danne´ Braden Photography