AMARILLO, TX – In many ways, the Jackalopes contest on Saturday night could be considered a microcosm of the season. Odessa had a strong start, then a tough middle that saw them trail, but they showed great resiliency to come back and they were nearly able to find the goal they needed in the last minute. Odessa fell 3-2 on Saturday night in the final contest of the 2020-21 season and last ever against the Amarillo Bulls.
Despite this however, there were plenty of positives and the Jackalopes can say they had a strong showing in their final game of the year.
Odessa and Amarillo battled each other through a scoreless first period, with both sides hitting the post, or in Jackalope forward Fletcher Anderson’s case the cross-bar, and both sides had several chances to strike first.
Amarillo surged ahead in the second period with two goals in 24 seconds to take a 2-0 lead. This was capped off by a power-play goal some minutes later to extend their lead to 3-0. But the Jackalopes, showing the resiliency that this young team has shown so often before, refused to go down without a fight.
The Jacks were able to claw back starting with J.R. Perdion’s goal off a rebound produced off a shot from the left circle by defenseman Stephen Perez. Perdion’s goal marked his third in three games and could potentially be a prelude into his playing abilities as he gets older and more experienced. Down 3-1, the Jackalopes were able to draw a penalty and quickly took advantage of the power play opportunity. Forward Joey Musa found defenseman Jimmy Rayhill all alone in the slot and fed a pass to him from the left corner. Rayhill, with time to pick his spot, made no mistake and rifled the puck into the back of the net, thus ensuring that the Jackalopes power play would finish the season with goals in their last three games.
The third period came around and the Jackalopes, needing to dominate the period, did just that. They had chances galore as they out-shot Amarillo 9-3. Musa had the best of the chances, including a breakaway in the early stages that was saved and a perfectly executed one-timer on top of the right-wing circle in the closing seconds of regulation. Musa’s shot at the end of regulation was blocked and it represented the best chance for Odessa to tie, for had that puck found its way to the net, it would’ve gone in.
When looking back at the season for this Jackalopes team it can be easy to see that nearly every game was close and exciting. But it is important to remember that this was a season of growth for the Jackalopes, who improved from last year in nearly every statistical category including their overall record.
Though the Jacks ended the year with a 12-36-4-4 overall finish, the culture and the attitude of this group of young men as set a foundation on which something spectacular can be built in the coming seasons. With another year and an off-season of work and conditioning, this year’s rookies will be next year’s veterans, ready to handle the challenges of another season in the South division. Despite the end of this season, under Jason Fortier, the future remains bright for the Odessa Jackalopes.
Photo: Danne’ Braden Photography