The Odessa Jackalopes returned home for the majority of December, playing nine of the final ten games of 2016 at the Ector County Coliseum. It kicked off on the first against the Lone Star Brahmas, who have beaten the Jacks all four times the teams have squared off so far.
The Jacks are still playing a couple men down, as Ryan MacKellar and Rowan Savidant have pre-existing injuries that have them out until after the holiday break. Jonny Hogue also suffered an injury last Friday night that will take him out until after the break, but it doesn’t stop them from being around the locker room and adding to the team.
Last weekend in Wichita Falls, MacKellar stood up and gave the team a speech between periods that prompted a goal for Odessa, 45 seconds into the next period. In tonight’s game, it was Savidant who kept the locker room lose prior to the game by calling out the lineup in the locker room in a way only he can.
It must have worked as the Jacks scored two goals in the first period. At the end of a two-minute shift, Chase Thudium joined the odd-man rush where he was able to find the stick of Chris Donaldson who was able to get his first goal of the day and get the Jacks on the board.
Later in the period, Tyler Pietrowski chipped a puck that had Noah Poindexter gunning it down the ice. Diving after the puck, Poindexter swatted the puck on net from the endline, through the five-hole of Brahmas goaltender Alec Calvaruso for the two-goal lead, in what will be a goal of the week nominee.
Into the second up two, it was Chris Donaldson again, this time on the power play. Donaldson received a pass from Kinsella and skated to the right-wing circle where he sniped a shot past Calvaruso, ending the night for the Brahmas netminder. Eric Gordon came in, in relief of Calvaruso for Lone Star to finish out the game.
Following a Brahmas goal by Pete Kessel, the Brahmas looked to have another goal in their midst. A wraparound opportunity was called a goal by the referees, not realizing the light didn’t go on behind the net. The officials called for a meeting and went to consult the goal judge before it was waved off, keeping the Jacks two-goal lead. Not much later, Pietrowski collected a beautiful pass from Bastien Maia, and with patience, was able to score his first goal as a Jackalope.
Entering the third with a three-goal lead, thanks to the two-goal swing at the end of the second, it was scoreless through the first three-quarters of the period, with big save after big save being made.
After obtaining a power play, coach of the Brahmas, Dan Wildfong, pulled his goaltender to give them a two-man advantage, looking for a goal to open the gates. While it didn’t come on the advantage, Lone Star was able to beat Flakne twice within 31 seconds of one another to claw within one.
That was the closest it came, as Gordon was pulled again with three minutes remaining in regulation, leading to a Zach Zech empty net goal. Zech took the shot on the easy goal with a purpose, sending a message to the Brahmas that neither he, nor this team will back down and they will be out there, ready to play, at any challenge.
Down two, the Brahmas pull their goaltender once again. Connor Wood one a defensive zone faceoff to Tyler Pietrowski who turned, and fired one down the ice with pinpoint precision for his second goal of the game, and the Jacks sixth, to seal the deal.
The Jackalopes won the game 6-3, thanks to a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, including a kill of a minute and a half of Brahmas 5-on-3, two-man advantage. Flakne saved 50 of 53 (yes, 53) shots on the night to take the victory and earn two points for Odessa. Eric Gordon took the loss, as he saved all but one shot in relief of Alec Calvaurso, who allowed three goals in just over 22 minutes.
Jackalopes come back on Friday night against the Brahmas, looking to keep the streak going after earning points in two straight games.
Tickets can still be bought at the Jackalopes office, or by calling 432-552-PUCK(7825). Be sure to follow the Jackalopes on Twitter @LetsGoJacks all year long and don’t forget to ‘Like’ the official “Odessa Jackalopes” fan page on Facebook.
— ODESSA JACKALOPES —