Odessa drops close game in Topeka

TOPEKA, KS – The Odessa Jackalopes (7-18-1-1) fought hard and lost a close game to the Topeka Pilots (18-9-1-1 )by a score of 3-2 at the Kansas ExpoCenter on Friday night.

The Jacks played a hard-nosed and intense hockey game, and more then deserved a better result, as they controlled the pace of play throughout the first period. Odessa netminder Noah Ping, making his first North American Hockey League start, looked strong. He stopped several great chances, including a few short-handed breakaways. He eventually ended the game with 39 saves.

The Jackalopes got on the board first as Matt Hutton carried the puck into the Pilots zone and stopped at the base of the left circle. Hutton waited and saw Chace McCardle coming off the bench and fed him a perfect pass as he entered the zone. McCardle sent a hard shot in past Topeka goalie Guy Blessing to record his first goal of the year and put the Jackalopes up 1-0 to close out the first period.

In the second period the Pilots was able to tie the game on an awkward goal from a short-angle. That tied the game up 1-1. Despite good chances from the Jackalopes, they entered the second intermission tied.

In the third period, the Pilots jumped ahead 3-1 after two goals within a span of a few minutes. The Jackalopes showed great grit and resolve as Jack Rudin scored to bring the Jackalopes within one and cut the lead to 3-2.

Odessa had a power-play to close out the third period and had some good looks at the net but were unable to find the equalizer.

The Jackalopes will look to earn a weekend split and end 2019 on a high note as they close out the calendar year against the Pilots on Saturday. Face-off is set for 7:05 pm.