Yesterday the Jacks hosted the Amarillo Wranglers to start their final eight home games. Odessa entered the game tied with Shreveport at 53 points for the final playoff spot in the South Division. The Wranglers were at 49 points and in sixth place. The Jacks have not played Amarillo since Jan. 7-8. Odessa came into this weekend series with a record of 2-2 against Amarillo this season.
The opening period saw a lot of back-and-forth hockey but no goals. Both teams registered ten shots through the first 20 minutes of play. There was only one penalty called, which was against Justin Hughes for cross-checking. Odessa tested Carter Clafton from multiple different angles but was unable to find an answer for him. The first period ended scoreless, making for an exciting second period.
Within the opening minute of the middle frame, Ryan Mansfield had a breakaway opportunity and appeared to have scored. However, upon further discussion, they waved the goal off. The Jacks would not be deterred from getting on the board first, as Tanyon Bajzer (12) scored 13:13 into the period. The Wranglers would tie the game with less than two minutes remaining. Their first goal of the game was scored by Danylo Korzhyletskyi (2). The score would remain tied 1-1 after 40 minutes of play. The Jacks were leading in shots, 21-20.
The Wranglers started the third period with a lot of energy by scoring two goals within the first five minutes. Their second goal of the game came from their leading scorer, Kristaps Skrastins (31). He is now third in the NAHL in goals. Their third unanswered goal was scored by CJ Zezima (4). Alex Proctor caught a piece of it but not enough to stop it from reaching the back of the net. Later in the period, Amarillo was on the powerplay, but it was the Jacks that would convert on it. Mike Manzo (5) scored 13:18 into the final period and it marked the 10th short-handed goal of the season for Odessa. Which is tied for the third-most in the NAHL. That was the 9th time that Amarillo has allowed a short-handed goal. The Jacks continued to pressure the Wranglers throughout the rest of the period, even pulling Proctor to send on an extra attacker. Both teams would call their timeout in the final minute and the Jacks had a few late scoring chances but unfortunately could not tie the game. Resulting in a 3-2 win for the Wranglers. Odessa finished with 36 shots and Amarillo had 32. The Jacks went 0/2 on the powerplay and the Wranglers went 0/4. It was the first time since Feb. 4th that the Jacks did not allow a power-play goal.
The win moves Amarillo within two points of Odessa. The Jacks losing streak is now at six games (0-5-0-1). Shreveport and Wichita Falls won last night, separating themselves from Odessa and Amarillo. The Jacks are now 2-3 against the Wranglers this season. Head Coach Scott Deur had this to say about the importance of game two, “We are on a six-game slide right now and we have to stop the bleeding. We have to find it within ourselves as a team to do that and I’m hoping we can bounce back and get two points.” Odessa will be auctioning off their specialty jerseys after the game tonight, with proceeds benefiting Shriners Hospitals for Children. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 pm CDT.
Photo credit: Danne Braden