ODESSA, TX — After their thrilling overtime victory on Thursday night, one might be forgiven for thinking that the Jackalopes and their fans would be in for a different contest on Friday night. Only natural when you consider Lone Star averaged over four and a half goals per game in contests following a loss this season. But the Brahmas were held off the scoreboard that the Odessa Jackalopes (6-5-2-0) won the goaltending duel and the game over the Lone Star Brahmas (13-4-1-0) by a score of 2-0 at the Ector County Coliseum.
Unlike Thursday, the first period on Friday did not start with a flurry of chances or offensive dominance by the Jackalopes. Both sides had their opportunities, non better then Jacob Badal’s breakaway in the first minutes of the game, but the goaltending of Odessa’s Connor Hasley and Lone Star’s Rico Dimatteo was stout.
Going into the second period, the Jackalopes turned up the offensive pressure as they peppered Dimatteo with 14 shots on net. None of which found it’s way in as the rookie netminder lived up to his billing as one of the better goalies in the North American Hockey League. On the other end of the ice Hasley, another rookie, matched his opponent stop for stop and made the saves he had to in order to keep the Brahmas off the board. This included stuffing a two-on-one chance that saw Hasley have to make two quick saves, first with his pad and then with his body, in the second period. For the most part however, Hasley benefited from a strong defensive game by the Jackalopes that continually frustrated the vaunted Lone Star offense at just about every turn.
After two scoreless periods, the third period was much the same as the first two. Both sides got chances, both sides had power play opportunities, and both sides were held off the scoreboard. That all changed about midway though, however, as the Jackalopes embarked on their fifth power play of the night. Solid puck movement by the Jackalopes set up defenseman Hunter Carrick in the middle of the ice just shy of the blue line. After receiving a quick pass, Carrick riffled a hard shot that beat Dimatteo low and through traffic in front to break the scoreless deadlock.
Carrick’s first as a Jackalope marked the second straight night the Jacks scored a power-play goal (Thursday’s overtime winner was on the man-advantage) and the fifth straight game that the Jackalopes had picked up the first goal of the game.
The Brahmas brought on a furious effort to tie the game late in the third just like Thursday but the Odessa defense would not be victimized again. Seconds after Dimatteo went to the bench for the extra-attacker, an outlet pass out of the Jacks’ zone found Badal at center ice. Badal, with time and space, picked his head up and fired a shot into the empty net to seal the victory.
Hasley, who made 16 saves on the night, picked up his fifth win of the season and second shutout of the year. The Brahmas meanwhile were forced to endure their first back-to-back losses this season and first shutout loss since October 23 at the start of the season.
For the Jackalopes though, Friday was another positive step in the right direction and hopefully the start of more good things to come. The Jacks will look for the three-game sweep on Saturday night against Lone Star at the Ector County Coliseum, face-off is set for 7:15 pm.
Photo Credit: Danne´ Braden Photography