AMARILLO, TX — It was one of those games that the Jackalopes have seen many times this season. They showed resiliency, grit and courage and their comeback attempt made serious headway. If periods were 25 minutes long instead of 20, it stands to reason Odessa would’ve tied the game late. Unfortunately, the Jackalopes just ran out of time as they fell 3-2 to the Amarillo Bulls on Monday night at the Budweiser Bull Pen.
The contest started off well for the Jackalopes as they were able to get the first goal of the hockey game off of Joey Musa’s power-play blast from the right circle. The shot found its way in past Amarillo net minder Hunter Garvey on the short side. Musa’s third goal in three games put the Jacks up 1-0 through the first period and marked the sixth time in nine games the Jackalopes scored the first goal of a contest.
But the Bulls caught fire in the second period. Amarillo tied the game less than three minutes into the second period off a broken play in the high slot, before taking a 2-1 lead after a Jackalopes turnover in the offensive zone led to an odd-man rush up the ice. The Jacks showed great resiliency, as they have all season, in looking for the tying goal. They forced Garvey to make no less than four acrobatic saves in the second to keep Odessa from tying the game. It would be no stretch to claim that Garvey’s performance in the second period was instrumental in the final result.
In the third period, the Jackalopes again got off to a hot start and peppered Garvey with shots, but like the second period, Garvey held firm. In the mid-stages of the period the Jackalopes took a penalty along the half-boards that ended up in Amarillo extending their lead to 3-1 off a set play and a one-timed shot from the left side that found its way in just under the cross-bar.
Despite being down 3-1, the Jackalopes persevered and continued to push back and get chances. One of the best coming off the stick of captain Evan Orr who had time in space in the left circle and wired a fast snapshot that just found Garvey’s glove on a reaction save. Eventually it came down to the final minute and with the goaltender pulled, Odessa finally found the back of the net. Fletcher Anderson, who assisted on Musa’s goal in the first period, took the puck across the high slot and sent a hard shot in past Garvey to pull Odessa within one with 16 seconds to go.
Even with such little time left, the Jacks pressed hard and nearly had the game tied. Again, the puck came to Orr, this time on the left half-wall. With time winding down, he stepped up toward the slot and took a hard shot aimed at the far post. There was room on that side and had the shot hit, the Jackalopes would’ve forced overtime. But Orr’s puck sailed wide by a few inches and Odessa ran out of time against the Bulls and fell 3-2 in regulation.
While still a young team, the Jackalopes continue to gain valuable experience in these close games, and while the results are still being sought after, the growth from this group is encouraging. Nearly tying the game in the third after giving up a power-play goal is evidence enough.
The Jackalopes will have a short time to recover and reset as they travel to Wichita Falls for their second to last series of the season. Face-off for Friday night’s contest from the Kay Yeager Coliseum is set for 7:05 pm.