ODESSA, TX — There’s resiliency and then there’s clutch. There’s lucky and then there’s just plain ridiculous. The Jackalopes were all four on Friday night as they erased a 2-1 deficit in the third period to earn a 3-2 victory over the New Mexico Ice Wolves on Friday night at the Ector County Coliseum.
The contest, that saw the Jackalopes face-off against the Ice Wolves for the ninth time this season, started in favor of Odessa even though they were out-shot in the first period. Jackalopes netminder Cooper Black had a solid bounce-back game after his previous outing in Shreveport was cut short after two periods. He stopped many a new Mexico shot and the defense in front of him did an excellent job of contesting any shot they could and clearing any rebound that came their way.
Odessa’s best chance in the first period came on a two-on-one rush up ice while both teams were skating four-on-four. Fletcher Anderson led the charge in the right side with Joey Musa to his left. The two leading scorers for the Jackalopes made an excellent play that nearly scored but Beni Halasz made an outstanding save to keep the game scoreless. He couldn’t make the next stop however in the final minute of the period as Joe Shubert had a shot from the left side deflect back to him and the forward took the puck to the net and tried another shot. The puck bounced around at the top of the slot and Gabe Bennett was able to get a stick on it and direct it into the back of the net to put Odessa up 1-0.
In the second period the Ice Wolves came back with fire and intensity, aided by several power plays. It was on the first that they were able to tie off a shot from the high-slot that found it’s way in past Black’s right side. The Jackalopes showed great perseverance killing off multiple penalties afterwards and Black remained undeterred as the two teams skated to a 1-1 tie after two periods.
The last time the Jackalopes had pulled off a successful third period comeback was during the first game of the season in Wichita Falls. Since then there have been many third period games come down to the wire but never had the Jackalopes comeback from a deficit. After New Mexico capitalized on a rebound in the mid-stages of the third, you could have been forgiven for having pessimistic feelings about Odessa’s chances. But the Jackalopes, who had seen too many close games slip away in the third, refused to let this one go.
Tyler German skated up ice on the right side before sending a perfect pass into the slot for Musa. The future Dartmouth forward toe-dragged the puck before rifling it into the back of the net to tie the game 2-2 with just over six minutes to play. But Odessa wasn’t done. Just over a minute later a long head-pass up the firth side found Ben Doherty at the New Mexico line. Doherty tapped it forward to a streaking Aidan Cobb who cut into the low slot. Cobb’s first shot was saved by Halasz but Cornell commit was able to get the rebound and bury it into the back of the net as he lost his footing.
In the span of just over a minute the Jackalopes turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead with under five minutes to play. Odessa’s defense stiffened up and while the Ice Wolves threatened they did not get any major chances to tie the game and force overtime.
Odessa’s 3-2 victory marked thier first Friday night victory since February 5, ironically against the Ice Wolves. black made 26 saves on 28 New Mexico shots for his third win of the season, all of them coming in 2021.
The Jacks will look for their first home sweep of the season on Saturday night with face-off set for 7:15 pm.
Photo Credit: Danne´ Braden Photography