Last night the Jacks played the El Paso Rhinos for the last time this season. It also marked the halfway point of the season for Odessa. The last time the Jacks were in action was the weekend before the holiday break when they were swept by the Corpus Christi IceRays. Yesterday also ended the Jacks 12-straight home games.
Odessa came out to start the game with a flurry of shots on Connor McDonough. This was the first time McDonough was between the pipes against the Jacks. It was also his third-straight start. McDonough could not withstand the pressure from the Jacks for much longer as Dayne Hoyord (10) scored on a breakaway. Just over three minutes later and Tanyon Bajzer (6) batted the puck into the back of the net to make it a 2-0 Odessa lead. The first period would end with the Jacks up by a pair. They also ended the period with 22 shots which is their most in any period this season. El Paso registered 10 shots on Alex Proctor.
The Jacks continued pouring on the goals as they scored three within the first 12 minutes. Goals were scored by Ryan Kelly (5), Justin Hughes (6, PP), and Emerson Goode (10). After five unanswered goals by Odessa, El Paso finally got on the board. Matt Johnson (9) beat Proctor at the 14:37 mark of the middle frame. Tyler Pfister (2) scored a power-play goal to make it 5-2 Odessa. However, the Jacks would ink one more goal before the end of the period as Chris Duclair (13) sent a slapshot from the point that flew right past McDonough. The Jacks were not only leading on the scoresheet, 6-2, but they were also outshooting El Paso 35-20 after 40 minutes of action.
Within the first five minutes of the final period, J. R. Perdion sniped one top shelf to give the Jacks their seventh goal of the game. His goal made it the most in a game for Odessa this season. The Jacks would add one more before the final horn of 2021 sounded. After Rylan Yates avoided two Rhinos players, he passed the puck over to Goode who then sent it across to a waiting Trevor Taulien (5). Taulien was easily able to puck the frozen rubber into the back of the net earning him his fourth point on the night (career-high). “It feels great, but it all starts with the team. We came out buzzing. We didn’t look back even though we were up a lot, and we kept our foot on the pedal.” Said Taulien about his first-star performance. The final score finished 8-2 Odessa and they outshot El Paso 49-25. Both teams went 1/3 on the power play.
Odessa ends 2021 in second place and will play 30 games in the new year; 13 of them will be on home ice. Alex Proctor picked up his 15th win this season. As for McDonough, it was his third loss in a row, and he has not won since November 20th versus Shreveport. He has allowed 20 goals in his last three games. Head Coach Scott Deur had this to say about the way 2021 ended for the Jacks, “It feels pretty good, I thought the guys really came together and competed hard. We had 20 plus shots in the first period which is quite a bit and that kind of was what our game plan was. It was just good to see that spread of offense throughout everyone.” The Jacks will spend the first three weeks of 2022 on the road. With their first weekend series against the Amarillo Wranglers.
Photo credit: Danne Braden