Jacks drop close 1-0 game to Pilots

ODESSA, TX — There were many similarities between Friday night and Saturday night. But the biggest difference was the goaltenders duel that developed on Saturday.

The Odessa Jackalopes (9-39-1-1) fell to the Topeka Pilots (33-14-3-2) 1-0 at the Ector County Coliseum on Saturday.

The game was close and contested from the opening puck drop. Both the Jackalopes and Pilots had great chances in the first period but could not find the back of the net. The best chance for Odessa in the first period came when Kam Ottenbreit streaked into the offensive zone on the left side and sent in a hard shot that hit the right post. The Jacks had the edge in shots during the first period 7-6.

The second period was more of the first as both sides tried and failed to find the back of the net. The the shots were even in the second, much of the period was played in the Jackalopes’ end. Goaltender Andrew Takacs put in another stellar performance on Saturday and got some quality help from his defense, clearing loose pucks while also blocking the passing and shooting lanes. Overall, Takacs finished the night with 26 saves on 27 shots.

But while the third period on Friday belonged to Odessa, on Saturday the third belonged to Topeka. The Pilots were able to launch a sustained offensive attack and finally broke through just over three minutes in as a wide shot bounced back off the end-boards and came out tward the front in time for Austin McCarthy to put the pilots ahead 1-0.

The Jackalopes had several quality chances in the third, especially on the power play but could not convert. Puck luck did not help the Jacks either as twice in the third a great rebound hopped over the stick of a Jackalope in the low slot. Unfortunately, Odessa could not tie the game late like they did on Friday and were forced to settle for a weekend split.

Though disappointing, the weekend should be taking as a positive for Odessa, who turned in two quality performances against a tough playoff team. The Jacks will look to bounce back on the road next week as they travel to Corpus Christi for a three-game series with the IceRays.

Photo: Danne’ Braden Photography