El Paso Rhinos (11-14-2-1, 25pts) vs. Odessa Jackalopes (17-10-1-1, 36pts)
at Ector County Coliseum in Odessa, TX
Time: 7:15 p.m. CDT
Broadcast: (Home) HockeyTV | Listen Live Here
What You Need to Know:
Season Series: 4-3
ELP: 25pts, Krause (9g-16a)
ODA: 21pts, Goode (9g-12a)
Tomorrow the Jacks will reach the halfway point of the 2021-22 campaign. They already have their best start to a season in franchise history. The New Year’s Eve game also concludes 12-straight home games for the Jacks. They are 6-4-1 during their current homestand. In 2022 the Jacks have 17 road games and 13 home games. Their first home game of 2022 will be against the Wichita Falls Warriors on Jan. 28-29. Odessa is 9-5-1-1 as the home team and 8-5 on the road. The South Division is the only one to not have a team that has allowed 100 goals. The IceRays have allowed the most with 92.
One Last Time:
This is the final meeting of the regular season between Odessa and El Paso. The Jacks lead the season series, 4-3. They also lead in goals with 20 and have allowed 19 through the previous seven meetings. Four of the games between these two teams were decided by one goal. The last time the Jacks saw the Rhinos was at the beginning of December for a 3-in-3 series. The Rhinos left the Ector County Coliseum with four out of a possible six points.
New Year’s Resolution:
The Jacks enter their final game of 2021 as the third-place team in the South Division. Whereas the Rhinos are sitting in last place. The Jacks could potentially end 2021 as high as first depending on how the other top teams perform this weekend. They cannot drop below fourth to end the year. As for El Paso, they can go as far up as sixth. The Rhinos have only recorded one point in their last five games (0-4-0-1). They have scored 13 goals in that span but have allowed 22. Prior to the holiday break, the Rhinos were swept by Shreveport and New Mexico. Odessa also had a tough weekend before the break as they were swept for the first time this season at the hands of the Corpus Christi IceRays. The Jacks went the longest without being swept in their division.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Rhinos (F: #17 – Frank Tafelski)
The native of Troy, MI is currently in his first season in the NAHL. Last year, Tafelski played for the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies (18U AAA) where he recorded 49 points in 28 games. Not only was he their assistant captain that year but he led the team in goals with 25. The 18-year-old sits sixth on the team in points with 14 (4g). The 6’0”/180lb. right-handed forward is averaging more than a point-per-game against the Jacks this season (1g, 7a). In 2019-20, Tafelski won the HPHL 16U Championship while playing for Honeybaked. Also, in that same year, he played 54 games for their 16U AAA team and registered 66 points. His 35 goals were a team-high.
Jackalopes (F: #13 – Mike Manzo)
The 20-year-old is in his final year of junior eligibility. He started his NAHL career with the Wilkes-Baree/Scranton Knights in 2019-20. The Knights drafted the Troy, MI native #113 overall in 2019. He played 21 games for them and tallied three points. The 5’9”/175lb. right-handed forward then played two games for the Springfield Jr. Blues before joining the Jacks towards the end of 2019-20. Last year with the Jacks, Manzo played 46 games and registered ten points (6g). Manzo recently played in his 100th NAHL game and is currently having the best season of his career (4g, 12a). He is fifth on the team in points and has scored seven points in his last six games (2g).
Photo credit: Danne Braden