Last night the Jacks played the El Paso Rhinos for the first time this season. Odessa entered El Paso, TX on a three-game win streak and were tied for the best start in franchise history. As for the Rhinos, they were swept last weekend by Shreveport and were in last place in the South. This weekend marked the third time this season the Jacks would have to play at a rival’s home opening weekend. This time it would have to be at the “home of the seventh man”.
From the opening faceoff the momentum seemed to favor the Rhinos as they mounted some offensive pressure in the first few minutes. However, 6:19 into the first, Rylan Yates (3) was able to beat Lassi Lehti to make it 1-0 Jacks. That goal marked the fourth-straight game in which Yates recorded a point (3g, 2a). Towards the late stages of the first, Odessa was awarded the game’s first power play but were unable to convert on it. Shortly after the penalty expired El Paso scored with just :20 seconds left in the period. The goal was scored by the Rhinos leading scorer, Jonathan Horn (5). The first period ended tied 1-1 and shots favored Odessa, 11-9.
In the second period there was only one goal scored and it came off Philip Quetell’s (2) stick. Alex Proctor got a piece of it but not enough to stop it from going into the back of the net. His goal came 14:23 into the period to give El Paso their first lead of the game. Once again though the Jacks put up 11 shots. The Rhinos put up seven.
The Jacks started the final period trailing by one but did not wait long before scoring an equalizer. This time it was Justin Hughes (2) depositing the frozen rubber into the back of the net. The near sell-out crowd did everything they could as the “seventh man” to try and energize their squad to regain the lead. Although it only seemed to fuel the Jacks as they would pour on three more goals before the game was over. Right at the halfway point, William Marshall was open below the left circle and had plenty of real-estate to score his first NAHL goal. Marshall had this to say about getting his first goal, “It was pretty awesome. Ten games in and I finally get the goal. Great pass from J.R. and it was just an awesome experience.” Just two minutes later, and Dayne Hoyord (5) would beat Lehti to put Odessa up by a pair. That is the third-straight game in which Hoyord has recorded a goal. It also put him on a four-game point streak (5g, 2a). In the final minutes, El Paso pulled Lehti to try and mount a comeback, but they would go unsuccessful. Mike Manzo (2) scored on the empty net to make it 5-2 Odessa when the final horn sounded. Odessa outshot El Paso, 31-24. The win keeps Odessa in first place with a 7-3 record (14pts). Odessa went 0/4 on the power play and El Paso went 0/3.
The win also gave Odessa their best start through their first ten games in franchise history. Head Coach Scott Deur had this to say about being apart of Jackalopes history, “Obviously we are happy with that but that is not the long-term goal. We want to make sure we keep coming to play for a full 60.” Scott went on to add, “It is nice to have that record though, and I did not know that heading into the game.” The four unanswered goals in the final period tied a season high (Oct. 1 vs. SHV). It was the third time in the last four games in which Odessa tallied five goals. They currently lead the South in goals with 36 as well as goal differential at plus 12. With a 22 save night, Alex Proctor (6-1) is now ranked sixth overall in goals-against-average (2.05) and save percentage (.932%). Tonight, the Jacks will look to pick up two more points and spoil yet another home opening weekend. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm MDT. You can catch all the action live on HockeyTV.