BLAINE, MN – Before the game on Thursday, James Crossman said that this is “a special group” when asked about his teammates this season, both familiar and new. After today Crossman’s assessment may have been validated as the Odessa Jackalopes (2-2-1) mounted a four-goal third period comeback to defeat the New Jersey Titans (3-1-0) 4-3 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota.
The Jackalopes started the first period we, dominating the shots on goal, but still found themselves down 1-0 after the first period. The second period was worse. Two New Jersey goals brought the deficit to 3-0 as the Jacks seemed to be battling the Titans, penalties, and a seemingly hot goaltender in Brandon Perrone.
In the third period, the Jacks were looking for something to change the momentum and they found it.
Rex Moe, one of the leading scorers in the North American Hockey League, took a shot in close that was initially saved, gathering up the rebound, Moe’s second effort found the back of the net and the Jacks were on the board midway through the third period. The goal extended Moe’s scoring streak to three games.
The second Jackalopes goal came off the stick of Crossman on a power play strike, his second tally in as many games. The PPG was the first one the Titans had given up all year and pulled the Jacks within one with under four minutes to play.
Fifty-seven seconds later Jared Christy received a perfect lead pass and found himself on a breakaway. Though he was taken down from behind, he was awarded a penalty shot for his efforts. On the attempt, Chrsity skated to his left, and baited Perrone into a poke-check. This opened up his five-hole and Christy made no mistake and deposited the game-tying goal between the legs of Perrone.
But it was 25 seconds later that the Jacks put forward the coup-de-grace.
Having used their time out earlier in the period, New Jersey could not stop the play and the Jackalopes momentum.
Vaclav Zidek found himself with space in the middle of the slot. After receiving a pass for Crossman, Zidek quickly sent the puck towards the net and saw it beat Perrone, who looked shaky on the save attempt.
Zidek’s third goal of the season capped an incredible four-goal comeback. In a span of less than two minutes Odessa went from down 3-1 to leading 4-3. They held on to that lead for the remainder of the game.
Jackalopes goaltender CJ Hapward made 23 saves in the victory, he remains undefeated when starting this season. The Jackalopes will play the Springfield Jr. Blues on Friday as part of the 2018 NAHL Showcase. Face-off is set for 1:30 pm.