Jacks defeat Pilots 5-4 in overtime thriller

ODESSA, TX— For the second straight night in a row the fans at the Ector County Coliseum were treated to late night theatrics from the Odessa Jackalopes and the Topeka Pilots.

The Jackalopes forced overtime and won in the extra session for the first time this season.

Though the Pilots got the scoring started, the Jackalopes surged back in the first period with a power play goal by Kyle Herbster who took a shot that ricocheted off the left post, then off the back of the goaltender Emil Gansoe and into the back of the net.

Herbster’s tally tied the game at 1-1.

Late in the period Connor Fedorek, the hero of Friday night, sent a shot from almost the exact same position he scored on Friday in through a mound of bodies and into the back of the net. Fedorek’s second goal of the season marked a new NAHL high for him and it gave the Jacks a 2-1 lead.

The Pilots would pull even during the second period and that set the stage for an epic climax in the third.

The Jackalopes were able to break the tie after a goalmouth scramble in front resulted in a goal. There was plenty of confusion over who scored for the Jackalopes as even the referees and the official scorers did not know for sure who among the Jacks pushed the puck over the line. Official scoring at the time of this article had given Matt Minerva credit for the goal.

Though the Jacks took a 3-2 lead an ill-advised penalty by James Crossman resulted in Topeka’s first power play goal of the series to tie the game up 3-3. This was followed up by another Pilots goal midway through the third period to put them up 4-3.

As the period continued on the Jackalopes fought hard to regain momentum and aver several fights they were able to do just that. The did that when Zach Heintz took a shot for the end boards that was blockered up in the air by Gransoe and then back-handed in by James Crossman to tie the game 4-4.

As the Jacks and the Pilots entered overtime the Pilots had to have felt confident as they had never lost an post-regulation game this season.

Both sides trades back and forth chances but failed to convert on multiple two-on-one chances.

The deciding play came when Vaclav Zidek forced a turnover and got a mini-breakaway streaking up the far-left side. Knowing he was about to be caught from behind by two Pilot defenders, Zidek slammed on the breaks, circled around and fed a centering pass to a wide-open Sebastian Frantz. Frantz, in the middle of the slot, took his time to pick his spot and made no mistake beating Gransoe and delivering the Jackalopes their first overtime win of the season.

The victory propels Odessa to a 6-8-1 record on the year and 3-1-1 against the Pilots. The Jackalopes will close out the three-game series Sunday afternoon at 4:11 pm.