ODESSA, TX — The power play came alive for the Odessa Jackalopes as they came back form a two-goal deficit to defeat the Topeka Pilots 3-2 at the Ector County Coliseum on Friday night.
After a scoreless first period the Pilots scored on two breakaways to take a 2-0 lead in the first seven minutes of the second period. Odessa countered though with a power-play goal by Vilho Saariluoma. Saariluoma took a shot from the far-side circle and it was deflected by a Topeka stick into the back of the net.
Saariluoma’s goal marked his first goal as an Odessa Jackalope and pulled the Jacks within one.
That goal saw an offensive surge by the Jacks that carried over into the third period.
In the third the Jackalopes established a strong offensive and physical presence to start things off. When they were the beneficiaries of another power-play they converted.
A point-shot by Connor Fedorek found it’s way into the low-left corner of the net and tied the game. Fedorek’s eighth goal of the season was a critical one that tied the game 2-2.
Both the Jacks and the Pilots went back-and-forth throughout much of the third period until Odessa got another power play. Like the previous two, Odessa converted again.
A shot from the right-point by Kellen Tharaldson was tipped on its way to the net by Joseph Winkelmann in front. The puck redirected past the goaltender and into the net. Winkelmann, the Jacks’ leading scorer and one of the top rookies in the North American Hockey League, netted his 15th goal of the season to put Odessa up 3-2.
This was a lead the the Jacks held for the remaining three minutes of regulation time as Odessa defeated Topeka 3-2. With the win, coupled with a Corpus Christi loss, the Jackalopes remain alive for a playoff birth with five games remaining in the regular season.