Last night the Jacks faced the El Paso Rhinos in game one of their final weekend series. Odessa entered the game eight points out of a playoff spot and was 4-1-0-1 on the season against the Rhinos. The Jacks were just in El Paso two weeks ago and ended up splitting the weekend series as both games went into a shootout.
Even though El Paso is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, they came out in the opening period putting all the pressure on Odessa. Their attack would pay off after Reid Lune (3) took a shot from the left circle and beat Greg Orosz. It was the first time Orosz was between the pipes after missing the previous three games. The Jacks would end the first period outshooting the Rhinos, 8-7 however, they trailed 1-0. It was the second-straight game in which the Jacks were held scoreless in the first period.
Odessa was able to tie the game within the first five minutes of the second period. Trevor Taulien (3) took a slapshot from the right point that went right through a screen and past Nolan Suggs. The Rhinos would regain the lead at the 9:17 mark of the second period. Frank Tafelski took a shot from the point that was deflected by Ryan Gingher (7). Roughly three minutes later and the Rhinos would increase their lead by two. Mason Kelly (2) took a shot from below the right circle that was stopped by Orosz but Kelly would find the rebound and easily deposit it into the back of the net. The Jacks would pull within one after Noah Marino (4) picked up the loose puck from a net-front scramble and tapped it home. El Paso would go on their first powerplay of the game with just under two minutes remaining in the period. It only took them 17 seconds to convert on it as Paavo Hiltunen (2) sent a wrist shot past Orosz from the right circle. Odessa was outshooting El Paso, 26-17, through 40 minutes of play but was trailing, 4-2.
For the third-straight period, Odessa outshot El Paso. While they had a few scoring chances, Suggs continued to stand on his head and deny every shot the Jacks threw at him. The Rhinos would score an empty-net goal from Kelly (3) with under a minute remaining to give them a 5-2 win. Marking their second-straight win over Odessa. It was also the second-straight game in which the Jacks lost by a score of 5-2. Odessa outshot El Paso, 40-29. The Jacks went 0/4 on the powerplay and the Rhinos went 1/3.
Odessa is still eight points out of a playoff spot, but they now only have 12 games remaining. The season series concludes tonight between Odessa and El Paso at 8:00 p.m. CDT. After tonight’s game, the Jacks will return home to start a seven-game homestand.
Photo credit: Danne Braden