Odessa Jackalopes (18-10-1-1, 38pts) vs. Amarillo Wranglers (18-10-0-1, 37pts)
at Amarillo Civic Center in Amarillo, TX
Time: 7:05 p.m. CDT
Broadcast: (Away) HockeyTV | Listen Live Here
What You Need to Know:
Season Series: 1-1
ODA: 23pts, Goode (10g-13a)
AMW: 36pts, Skrastins (19g-17a)
The top four teams from each division will advance to the playoffs. Right now, the top four teams in the South have all played at least 29 games and the points range from 36-to-40. This weekend the second-place Jacks are set to face off against the third-place Wranglers for the second time this season. With both teams only being separated by a point these two games mean a lot to both sides. Out of the four teams that are currently in a playoff spot in the South, Amarillo has allowed the fewest goals (74) whereas the Jacks have allowed the most (80). However, Odessa has scored the second-most goals (97). None of the top four teams will drop out of a playoff spot after this weekend.
The Wranglers enter this weekend with the second-best power play across the NAHL (27.8%). Odessa’s power play is ranked 22nd with a success rate of 15.4%. Amarillo also has the second-most power-play goals with 30. The penalty kill has always been good for Odessa. They are ranked eighth in the league (84.8%) and are tied with the Maryland Black Bears for the most shorthanded goals (8). The Wranglers have allowed 21 power-play goals while the Jacks have allowed 16. Odessa has only allowed one short-handed goal, which came against the Wranglers during game one of their last weekend series. As for Amarillo, they have allowed four short-handed goals, with two of them coming from Odessa.
Kristaps Skrastins not only leads Amarillo in goals and points but also in shots. His 126 shots are also a league-high. His shooting percentage of 15.1% is the third-best on his team. As for Odessa, Evan Orr leads the team in shots with 81. The best shooting percentage belongs to Chris Duclair (21.3%). In the 28 games Skrastins has played so far, there is only one game in which he did not register a shot (Oct. 22nd vs. LOS). The most in a game for him is eight and he has done that twice in the last three games. Odessa is coming off a win against the Rhinos in which they had eight different goal scorers.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Jackalopes (G: #1 – Alex Proctor)
The native of Dallas, TX is in his final year of junior eligibility. The 20-year-old is third in wins among NAHL goalies (15). He is ranked 13th overall with a 2.48 goals-against-average. The 6’2”/175lb. left-handed goaltender is fourth in save percentage at .925%. In his last five games, Proctor is 3-1-1 and has allowed 13 goals while making 174 saves. Last season, Proctor played 26 games for the Philadelphia Hockey Club (NCDC) and finished with an 8-13-3 record (3.76GAA/.889SV%). His first start in the NAHL came in 2019-20 while he was with the Springfield Jr. Blues. He played 16 games for them and ended with a 3-7-2 record (3.75GAA/.896SV%). Proctor is certainly having a career-best season as he is also fourth among goalies in saves with 683. He also earned South Division Star of the Week for September 27-October 3.
Wranglers (G: #1 – Max Gutjahr)
The Appleton, WI native has the second-most wins in the NAHL (16). The 20-year-old is ranked second overall with a 2.11GAA. The 6’1”/180lb. left-handed goaltender has the best save percentage among his peers at .932%. This is Gutjahr’s last year of junior hockey. He was drafted #154 overall in 2020 by the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL). He also won the 2020-21 NA3HL Championship while with the North Iowa Bulls. Gutjahr got his start in the NAHL with the Amarillo Bulls back in 2019-20. He played 26 games that season and finished with a 20-4-1 record (1.79GAA/.916SV%). The following year he stayed with the Bulls but only played five games and ended without a win (0-3). This year though, Gutjahr has been awarded South Division Star of the Week twice. He also was the November NAHL Goaltender of the Month after going 7-1 and registering two shutouts.
Photo credit: Danne Braden