Yesterday the Jacks faced the Ice Wolves for their 59th game of the season. This is the final weekend of the regular season in the NAHL. Regardless of how it goes for the Jacks, they will finish in fifth place which is their best finish since coming in third back in 2017-18. They are one win away from reaching 30 on the season. As for New Mexico, they entered the game yesterday sitting in second place and only one point ahead of Wichita Falls. The matchups are already set for the playoffs in the South, but the Ice Wolves are still trying to lock up home-ice advantage for the first round. They will be in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Odessa went with Noah Rupprecht between the pipes and New Mexico started Carsen Stokes. Both goalies are 1-0 against the opposition this season. The Jacks got out to a great start after Trevor Taulien (9) sent a wrist shot far side past Stokes at the 4:03 mark of the first. The Ice Wolves would tie the game with just over five minutes remaining in the period. Their first goal of the game was scored by Sully Scholle (5) on the powerplay. The first period would end in a 1-1 tie with New Mexico outshooting Odessa 14-6.
The Jacks regained the lead after Dayne Hoyord (21) scored 13 seconds into the middle period. New Mexico would tie the game once again about three minutes later after Dillan Bentley scored his 30th of the season. Setting an Ice Wolves franchise record for goals in a season. Less than a minute later, the Ice Wolves were back on the board after JD Metz (11) scored a power-play goal. New Mexico would increase their lead to 4-2 after Nicolas Haviar (13) scored with less than eight minutes left in the second period. The Ice Wolves were now leading 4-2 through 40 minutes and still outshooting Odessa 31-17.
New Mexico continued to keep its foot on the gas throughout the final period of regulation. Sully Scholle (6) found the back of the net for his second of the night. Which also gave his team a 5-2 lead. With only five minutes left to go in the game, Head Coach Scott Deur pulled Rupprecht in hopes of tying the game. Unfortunately, it resulted in two empty-net goals for the Ice Wolves. The first empty netter was scored by Scholle (7) to make it just the second hat trick in Ice Wolves history and the first one on home ice. Their final goal of the game came from Aidan Emerson (4). The horn eventually sounded resulting in a 7-2 victory for New Mexico. Tying a season-high in goals. They outshot Odessa 44-27. The Jacks went 0/3 on the powerplay and the Ice Wolves went 2/6.
The 7-2 win was the largest goal differential between Odessa and New Mexico all year. The Jacks still lead the season series 4-3. The Warriors won their game against Amarillo meaning tonight will decide whether they or New Mexico will finish in second and get home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Jacks are still fighting for their 30th win of the season and are two goals away from setting a franchise record for goals in a season. The final puck drop of the Jackalopes season is scheduled for 6:30 pm MDT.
Photo credit: Danne Braden