On Saturday the Jacks took the ice for their final game of the season. They were still trying to get their 30th win of the season. As for New Mexico, they were fighting to lock up second place in the South and get home-ice advantage for the first round of playoffs against Wichita Falls. The Jackalopes went into their final game against New Mexico leading the season series, 4-3.
Odessa started off strong by scoring 49 seconds into the opening period. The first goal of the game belonged to Tanyon Bajzer (18). The Ice Wolves kept pressuring the Jacks throughout the period and eventually would tie the game. Nicolas Haviar (14) scored the first Ice Wolves goal just past the halfway point of the period. For the second-straight night, Odessa and New Mexico headed into the first-period intermission tied at 1-1. The Ice Wolves were outshooting the Jacks, 16-10.
There was only one goal scored in the second period. It came 2:28 into the middle frame while the Jacks were on the powerplay. Chris Duclair set up Brendan Finn (3) for the goal which put Odessa back in the lead. Finn’s goal marked the 193rd goal this season for Odessa which is a new franchise record. Once again New Mexico put up 16 shots, but Alex Proctor was able to deny them all. The Jacks ended with 19 shots through 40 minutes of play.
New Mexico was able to tie the game once again after Joe Prouty (3) scored 3:42 into the final period. With less than five minutes remaining, the Ice Wolves gained their first lead of the game. Their third goal was scored by Evan Carroll (6). Less than three minutes later and New Mexico was back on the scoresheet. This time it was Wilmer Svensson (11) and his goal would put New Mexico up 4-2 with under three minutes remaining in regulation. The score would hold even with Alex Proctor on the bench in the final minutes. The Ice Wolves won the game 4-2 and outshot the Jacks, 49-26. Odessa went 1/3 on the powerplay and New Mexico went 0/4.
The win secured second place for New Mexico as they will now have home-ice advantage in the first round against the Warriors. Also, it was the first time all season that Beni Halasz beat Odessa. The Jacks end the 2021-22 season with a record of 29-26-1-4 (63pts). They also finish with 193 goals for and 193 goals against. The Jacks went 15-12-1-2 this season as the home team and 14-14-0-2 as the road team. They end the season in fifth place which is their best regular-season finish since 2017-18. While the final two games for Odessa did not go the way they had wanted, they will be back in the fall for the 26th consecutive year of hockey in the Permian Basin.
Photo credit: Danne Braden