BLAINE, MINNESOTA — It was prime time, the lights were bright, and the stands were packed. A standing room only crowd was on hand to watch the Odessa Jackalopes battle the US National Team Development Program U-17 team. The Jackalopes did not disappoint, falling to the U-17’s 3-2 but only after a third period surge by Team USA.
After falling down 1-0 early off a power play goal, the Jackalopes quickly gained momentum and turned the play in their favor. Two goals by Matt Hutton and Vilho Saariluoma less then five minutes apart gave the Jackalopes the 2-1 lead and the momentum going into the second period.
In the second, the Jackalopes were able to weather the storm of three Team USA power plays and remain on top 2-1. The U-17’s had never lost a game in the North American Hockey League Showcase. But the Jackalopes had them on upset watch going into the third period.
Unfortunately for Odessa, it was in the third period that Team USA made their move. After tying the game just over five minutes into the final period, the Jackalopes took two consecutive penalties and gave the US a five-on-three advantage for over a minute. While the Jackalopes were able to kill of the first penalty, they were unable to kill off the second and a tip-in goal by the U-17’s gave them the lead back 3-2.
Odessa swarmed after that, and newcomer Bram Scheerer shined as the Jacks sent pucks and bodies to the USA net in a barrage of chances. But they were unable to find the equalizer and could not capitalize on the eight power play opportunities over the course of the game.
The Jackalopes end their Blaine trip with three out of a possible four league points in their pocket and look forward to their first road series of the season next weekend when they face the New Mexico Ice Wolves.