Last night the Jacks faced the Shreveport Mudbugs for the third time in two weeks. Odessa entered the game leading the season series, 3-1. Odessa split last weekend with New Mexico and as for Shreveport, they swept Lone Star. Eight points separated these two South Division teams heading into game one yesterday.
Odessa started the opening period like they have done many times this season, with a flurry of pressure on the opposing goaltender. The goalie they faced though was the back-to-back Goaltender of the Month, Simon Bucheler. The Jackalopes did not let that intimidate them though as they were able to notch the first goal and it only took them 2:08 to do so. The goal came from Brendan Finn (6) off a rebound. The Jackalopes would feed off the hometown crowd by adding another one to their tally. This time it was from Tanyon Bajzer (14) and now Odessa had a 2-0 lead 3:19 into the first period. Shreveport would cut the lead in half after registering a power-play goal just past the halfway point of the period. The Mudbugs first goal came from Jake Mack (8). The one-goal differential did not last for too long, however, as Odessa would go onto a powerplay minutes later. Ryan Mansfield (15) fired a missile from the right circle and went top shelf on Bucheler. The first period would end with Odessa leading 3-1 and outshooting Shreveport, 15-6.
The Jackalopes would take their largest lead of the game nearly six minutes into the middle frame. It came from Dayne Hoyord (5) as he took a shot from a sharp angle that ricocheted off the back of Bucheler and into the back of the net. The Mudbugs would pull Bucheler after that goal and replace him with Nikola Goich. Shreveport though would find their groove as they forced Odessa on their heels and once again cut the lead in half. This time it was from Hayden Nichol (7) with less than four minutes remaining in the period. The horn would eventually sound to send Odessa once again into the locker room with a lead, 4-2. The Jacks were outshooting the Mudbugs, 28-24.
For the second-straight period, the Mudbugs put up 18 shots on Greg Orosz. They were able to pull within one of Odessa after Logan Gotinsky (11) scored exactly seven minutes into the final period. Shreveport continued to apply pressure onto Orosz and would tie the game at four after Mack (9) registered his second of the night. The third period was the lowest shooting period for the Jacks as they only put up nine on Goich. Odessa was unable to convert on any of their scoring chances which resulted in the game needing more than 60 minutes. The Jacks had most of the puck possession throughout the extra period however neither team was able to find the back of the net. Requiring the game to go to a shootout. Neither team scored in the first three rounds of the shootout. Kason Muscutt would take the fourth shot for the Mudbugs and would be denied by Orosz. Giving Ryan Kelly the opportunity to end things if he scores. Kelly worked in slowly from the right circle and brought the puck into the slot for a wrist shot. His shot flew past Goich to give Odessa the 5-4 win. It is now the second time this season Kelly has scored a game-winning goal in a shootout. Both teams finished with 44 shots. Odessa went 1/3 on the powerplay and Shreveport went 1/5.
Odessa is now 4-1 on the season against Shreveport and sits seven points behind them for the final playoff spot in the South. Head Coach Scott Deur stated this after the shootout win, “We cannot be giving them one point like that when we are up 4-1 and then 4-2 to start the third. We made some errors but give credit to them for climbing back and were almost rewarded with two points. When it comes down to it though we cannot allow that to happen.” Game two is scheduled for tonight at 7:15 p.m. CDT. It is the last home game for Odessa until next month.
Photo credit: Danne Braden