Last night the Jacks faced the New Mexico Ice Wolves to start their last road trip of the season. Odessa came into the game on a two-game win streak and needed to make it three in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. As for the Ice Wolves, they currently hold the final playoff spot with 65 points but are being chased not only by Odessa but also Amarillo. The last time Odessa was in the Outpost Ice Arenas was at the end of September and it marked their first South Division opponent of the season.
In the first period, New Mexico controlled much of the pace by keeping Odessa pinned in their own zone. The Jacks were able to withstand the pressure and Greg Orosz denied all 12 shots he faced in the opening period. The Jacks had a few scoring chances in the first period but none of their nine shots were able to get past Carsen Stokes.
The action ramped up in the second period and resulted in the scoreless game being broken. At the 12:23 mark of the period, Charlie Emme went right to the front of the net and sent a backhander past Stokes. Giving Odessa a 1-0 lead. Emme had this to say about scoring his first NAHL goal, “It felt really good, and it came at a great time.” New Mexico kept throwing everything they had at Orosz and company but once again would go into the locker room without a goal. The Ice Wolves were leading in shots, 25-21 through 40 minutes of play.
The Ice Wolves would tie the game nearly seven minutes into the final period. Their goal came from Graham Harris (4), who was playing in his 100th NAHL game. Both teams continued to have chances and close calls throughout the final period, but it would end tied at one apiece. New Mexico was outshooting Odessa, 34-31, heading into the extra period. The overtime saw a lot of patience on both ends of the ice and each team continued to test the opposition goaltender. Just over three minutes into the extra period, New Mexico turned the puck over in their own zone which allowed Dayne Hoyord to set up John Wojciechowski in the slot. Stokes went into desperation mode to go from post to post. Wojciechowski waited to settle the frozen rubber and then proceeded to snap a wrist shot right past a diving Stokes. Giving Odessa their third-straight 2-1 win and keeping their playoff hopes alive. Wojciechowski had this to say after scoring the game-winning goal, “It means a lot that we are still in it and it makes us play harder. No one wants to play for nothing and now tomorrow we just have to take care of business.” Both teams finished game one with 36 shots. Odessa went 0/5 on the powerplay and New Mexico went 0/7.
Head Coach Scott Deur had this to say after the win, “I thought we had a lot of grade ‘A’ scoring chances, and I thought their goalie was fantastic. Greg was equally fantastic but overall, that was a fun game to watch and now tomorrow we just have to do what we came here to do and that is to win.” The Ice Wolves have now only scored three goals in their previous five games. The last time they scored more than one goal in a game was Mar. 18th vs. Lone Star. The Jacks once again must win tonight in order to return home still in the hunt for the final playoff spot. The puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 CDT.
Photo credit: Danne Braden