ODESSA, TX – The Jackalopes had not been back at the Ector County coliseum for about a month. When they returned, they treated their hockey-hungry fans a treat. Odessa (19-29-1-1) defeated the Shreveport Mudbugs (14-19-3-5) 5-2 at the JackShack on Friday night.
Despite being out-shot in the first, Odessa got the scoring started. Jack Conroy deflected a shot in past the Shreveport netminder on just Odessa’s fourth shot-on-goal. Conroy followed his fourth goal of the season up with another on the power play. After the puck came to Conroy on top of the crease, he sent a quick shot toward the net. Goaltender Maiszon Balboa made a quick save with his left pad, but it knocked the puck right back to Conroy. Conroy then extended his arms and tucked the puck in around the outstretched pad of Balboa to secure his second of the game and Odessa a 2-0 lead.
In the second period the Jackalopes weathered an early offensive push by Shreveport before going down the ice and scoring again. Conroy sent a back-handed pass on an offensive rush that deflected off a Shreveport skate and right to forward Joseph Winkelmann. Balboa was playing shot all the way and was subsequently out of position when Winkelmann rifled his one-time home into the top shelf.
Winkelmann’s twelfth goal of the season came just over five minutes into the second period. Though Shreveport got on the scoreboard late in the period, Odessa carried a 3-1 lead going into the third.
Less then 30 seconds into the final period, Winkelmann received pass from Vaclav Zidek and streaked in toward the goal. Having a stride on the nearest defender, Winkelmann cut in towards the net and sent a back-handed shot towards the cage. The shot sailed low, between the pads of Balboa, and into the net for Winkelmann’s second of the night and 13th of the season.
Despite facing a 4-1 deficit, the Bugs fought back fiercely. Several times Odessa was faced with a desperation situation as the Bugs had scoring chances in close with Jacks netminder Alex Camarre forced to make save after desperation save. But the Jacks held the line, at least until the 14:53 mark of the third. Shreveport pulled within two goals after a deceptive shot from the half-wall beat Camarre low.
Within two, the Bugs pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. Shreveport attacked, but the Jackalopes defense gave them nothing. With under a minute to play, Brendan Coughlin sent a shot from his won hash-marks down the length of the ice and into the empty net. It was a distance of around 175 feet.
Joseph Winkelmann finished the night with four points (two goals, two assists) and continues to lead the Jackalopes in total points. He also extended his assist streak to 6 games, which ranks among the best in the North American Hockey League. Alex Camarre made 47 saves of 49 Shreveport shots.
The Jackalopes look for their first sweep against Shreveport on Saturday night when the close out the weekend series against the Mudbugs.