Jacks Pounce Late, Top Wildcats 3-2



Mar. 9, 2012



Odessa keeps pace with Corpus Christi thanks to third period rally.


WICHITA FALLS, TX– In the first of six games against the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the final month of the 2011-12 regular season, the Odessa Jackalopes mounted a late comeback to top their South Division rivals at Kay Yeager Coliseum on Friday night. With the win, the Jacks improved to 21-25-5 overall this season and with 45 points, remain alone in fifth place in the NAHL’s South Division standings, six points shy of the Corpus Christi IceRays and the final South Division playoff spot.

After a scoreless first period, Odessa forward Darren Lapic broke through on the scoreboard midway through the middle frame, wiring home a rebound chance on the power-play at 10:14, his third goal of the season, to stake the Jacks to a 1-0 lead. Three minutes later, the Wildcats responded with a goal of their own, as Wichita Falls winger Tyler Yudez sent a fluttering puck over the left shoulder of a screened Connor Hellebuyck to tie the game at one.

In the third period the Wildcats kept the pressure on, tallying their second unanswered goal at exactly 7:00 when leading Wildcat goal-scorer Zach Pochiro laced a slapper through the wickets on Hellebuyck from the left point, a power-play goal that made it 2-1 Wichita Falls. Not to be outdone, the Jackalopes answered right back 31 seconds later as a persistent Tyller Robert shift proved fruitful when the Odessa winger poked home a third-effort chance to tie the game at two.

As time wound down in regulation, it looked like the Jacks and ‘Cats were bound for overtime, but with just over two minutes to play, a Josh Obregon shot was turned aside by Wichita Falls netminder JoJo Jeanetta, but the rebound ended up first on the tape of Alex Ostrowski and then in the back of the Wildcat net for the game-winning score for the Jacks.

In his league-leading 45th appearance of the season, Hellebuyck stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced, bumping his record over the .500 mark for the first time this season at 20-19-5. While the Jacks struggled on the power-play, they did convert on one of their seven man-advantage chances and killed two of the three penalties leveled against them.

Next up for the Jacks, it’s a Saturday rematch with the Wildcats at Kay Yeager Coliseum in Wichita Falls with the opening faceoff set for 7:05 pm.

The Odessa Jackalopes celebrate their 15th Anniversary in 2011-12 and drop the puck on their inaugural campaign as a member of the North American Hockey League.  Season tickets, mini-plans, and single game tickets are available by calling (432) 552-7825 or by visiting the Jacks online at www.jackalopes.org.

Be sure to follow the Jackalopes on Twitter @LetsGoJacks all season long and don’t forget to ‘Like’ the official “Odessa Jackalopes” fan page on Facebook.