Last night the Jacks hosted the first-place New Mexico Ice Wolves. Odessa was coming off a 6-2 victory over Wichita Falls the weekend before. As for the Ice Wolves, they were swept by Shreveport last weekend. The Jacks were 3-1 against the Ice Wolves going into this weekend. There is a lot on the line for Odessa this weekend as they are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive. New Mexico on the other hand is battling Lone Star for sole possession of first place.
Odessa started off on the right track by scoring 1:20 into the opening period. The goal was scored by William Marshall (3). As the period approached the halfway point, Mitchell Becker (9) scored a power-play goal with only one second left before the game went back to even strength hockey. New Mexico would make it a 2-1 game after Nicolas Haviar (12) scored at the 14:10 mark. A little of two minutes later and the Ice Wolves were back on the power play. This time it was Alex Gomez (8) scoring for the Ice Wolves. New Mexico not only took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission, but they were also outshooting Odessa, 24-6. It was the most shots the Ice Wolves had put up in any period this season.
Odessa managed to pull within one shortly past the halfway point of the second period. Their second goal of the game was scored by Rylan Yates (11). Odessa wound up with a powerplay towards the end of the period but unfortunately gave up a short-handed goal. The Ice Wolves fourth goal was scored by their captain and leading scorer, Dillan Bentley (26). That was the 13th time New Mexico scored a short-handed goal this season, which ties them for the league lead. It was also the fourth time the Jacks gave up a short-handed goal all year. New Mexico was now leading 4-2 through two periods and averaging a shot per minute, 40-17.
The third period is when the flood gates opened. Jack Christen scored his first NAHL goal just 27 seconds into the final period. “It was a lot of fun and took a little bit longer than expected but I made a rush down the wall and most of the forwards told me to go since they had me covered. I was able to make a drive to the net and produce a goal,” said Christen. The Jacks were not going down without a fight as they would go on to score another goal within the opening two minutes. The tying goal came from the stick of Ryan Kelly (12). The Jacks continued attacking Beni Halasz between the pipes. Their constant pressure resulted in Chris Duclair (19) stuffing the puck past Halasz on the near-side post. Less than two minutes later and it was once again Chris Duclair (20) finding the back of the net. He is the first Jackalopes player to score 20 goals since Blake Bride in 2017-18. “It means a lot to me obviously, but I couldn’t do it without my teammates. It is a game of inches so playing with really good players helps,” said Duclair. A minute later though, Dillan Bentley (27) scored another short-handed goal to make it a 6-5 lead for Odessa. It was the first time all season that New Mexico scored two short-handed goals all season. The Jacks would go back up by a pair 57 seconds later. Their seventh goal of the game was scored by Tanyon Bajzer (13) on the powerplay. That was the fifth goal in the third period for Odessa which marked the most in any period for them all season. It was also the most goals New Mexico has allowed in a game all season. The Ice Wolves pulled Halasz but were unable to make up the two-goal deficit. Giving the Jacks their 27th win of the season. New Mexico finished with 50 shots and Odessa had 32. The Ice Wolves went 2/5 on the powerplay and the Jacks went 1/4.
Alex Proctor stopped a remarkable 45 shots for his 20th win this season. It was also the first time all year that New Mexico lost a game when leading after the second period (21-1). It was the first time that the Jacks won two games in a row since Feb. 10-11 versus Corpus Christi. They have not won three straight games since Dec. 4-11. Odessa has now scored 13 goals in their last two games. The Ice Wolves have scored eight goals during their current three-game losing streak but have given up 12. Head Coach Scott Deur had his to say about the comeback his team had in the third period to win the game, “I told the boys that if they won that period, they would win the game. Although, I did not think it would result in five goals.” The conclusion of the weekend series is tonight at 7:15 pm CDT.
Photo credit: Danne Braden