AMARILLO, TX — It was a tight goaltender’s duel between Amarillo’s Andrew Takacs and Odessa’s Cooper Black. Unfortunately for the Jackalopes Takacs made one more save then Black and the Jacks (9-26-2-3) fell to the Amarillo Bulls (22-10-3-4) by a score of 2-1 at the Budweiser Bull Pen on Friday night.
The first period on Friday saw chances at both ends of the ice, but it was the Bulls who picked up the first goal of the hockey game off a shot from the right point that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net.
The Jacks ended the period strong and drew a power play that carried over into the second period. That period saw the Jackalopes get a number of grade-a chances in tight in the first four minutes but some timely saves bu Takacs kept Odessa at bay.
Spurred on by their goaltender, the Bulls had a torrent of chances in the mid-stages of the second period in an attempt to extend thier lead. Black was tested often during these few minutes but showed poise and patience in net, and the defense in front of him did a good job in blocking shots and clearing rebounds.
In the end, the Jackalopes were able to draw another power play an they quickly took advantage.
Taking a pass from Jack Musa defenseman Jimmy Rayhill skated to the right half-boards and unleashed a quick shot towards the net. The shot beat Takacs over his blocker and deflected off the far post before grazing the crossbar on its way into the net. Rayhill’s power-play goal tied the game for Odessa and ended a three game power play drought for the Jacks.
Once gain, in a scenario the Jackalopes have become accustomed to, the game would be decide in the third period. But a fast start by Amarillo enabled them to find the go-ahead goal form a close-in shot that made it 2-1 Amarillo. The Jackalopes surged again in the third, looking for the equalizer. For the third game in four,the Jacks out-shot thier opponent in the third period but were unable to find the back of the net, thus yielding the first game of the weekend series to the Bulls.
While another close loss stings, there were positives to take away. Cooper Black made 36 saves on the night, his third highest total of the season. In addition the Jackalopes won special teams as the Odessa penalty kill skated off all three of Amarillo’s power plays, no small feat seeing as the Bulls boasted the second best power play in the league.
The Jackalopes will regroup and look to earn a weekend split on Saturday night as they face the Bulls again for a 7:05 puck-drop.
Photo Credit: Danne´ Braden Photography