New Mexico Ice Wolves (34-14-1-3, 72pts) vs. Odessa Jackalopes (26-21-1-4, 57pts)
at Ector County Coliseum in Odessa, TX
Time: 7:15 p.m. CDT
Broadcast: (Home) HockeyTV | Listen Live Here
What You Need to Know:
Season Series: 3-1
NMO: 52pts, Bentley (25g-27a)
ODA: 36pts, Duclair (18g-18a)
The Jacks have eight games remaining this season. Half of those games will be played on home ice. Also, four of their final eight games will be against the New Mexico Ice Wolves, who are tied with Lone Star for the top spot in the South. Six of the final eight games for Odessa are against teams currently in a playoff spot. Every team in the South has eight games remaining. Odessa is four points back of Shreveport for the final playoff spot. However, they are only two points ahead of Amarillo. Odessa still has to finish their season series with Shreveport and Amarillo. New Mexico is seeking their first playoff appearance in franchise history. As for Odessa, they are looking to make the playoffs for the first time in three years (2017-18).
The Ice Wolves have not only allowed the fewest goals in the South but also the NAHL. Their 118 goals against through 52 games also have them averaging the fewest goals against per game at 2.27. A large part of their success has come from their netminder, Beni Halasz. The Budapest, Hungary native is tied for the best goals-against-average in the league (1.89). The Northern Michigan commit has the second-best save percentage in the NAHL (.929%). He also leads all goalies in shutouts with seven. However, Halasz has only won two of his last six starts (2-3-0-1). He is 0-1-0-1 against Odessa this season. As for the Jacks, their main goaltending has come from Alex Proctor. He is tied for the seventh-most wins between the pipes with 19. His 19th win came this past Saturday after stopping 33 of 35 shots. The victory gave him the second-most wins in a single season in Jackalopes history. The Dallas, TX native is tied for 15th in save percentage at .913%. His 2,147 minutes is the sixth most by a goalie this season. He has played 38 games this season and has registered 1,108 saves which are the fifth most among his peers. Proctor is 2-1 against the Ice Wolves this season but is 1-5 in his last six starts.
The third period is the highest-scoring period for both New Mexico and Odessa. The Ice Wolves have scored 66 goals in the final 20 minutes of play which is tied for the fifth most across the NAHL. Odessa has scored 64 goals in the third period this season which is tied for the eighth-most. Although, their season total of 171 goals is the second most in the South. New Mexico is third with 164. The Ice Wolves have the fewest penalty minutes in the South with 675. Their penalty kill is tied for the second-best in the NAHL at 86.2%. The Jacks only have 891 penalty minutes which is the second-fewest in their division. Their penalty kill is ranked 20th in the league with a success rate of 79.3%.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Ice Wolves (F: #97 – Sully Scholle)
The Chaska, MN native is in his first season in the NAHL. The 19-year-old started this season in the USHL with the Des Moines Buccaneers. He played 18 games for them this year and finished with five points (4g, 1a). He joined the top-seeded Ice Wolves at the start of February. He currently has eight points in his 14 games played in an Ice Wolves jersey. Prior to reaching junior hockey, Scholle played three years of high school hockey for Chaska High (USHS-MN). The 5’10”/170lb. left-handed forward was the captain for his high school team in 2020-21. He finished his high school career with 69 games played and 66 points (35g, 31a). Scholle is currently on a two-game point streak (1g, 1a).
Jackalopes (F: #21 – J.R. Perdion)
The Strongsville, OH native is in his second season in the NAHL. He started his junior career with the Northeast Generals in 2020-21. He played 17 games for them and tallied three points (2g, 1a). He finished out last season playing 24 games for the Jacks (5g, 2a). The 18-year-old is second on the team in points with 35 and has the third-most goals at 17. His six power-play goals are a team-high. The 5’11”/180lb. right-handed forward leads the Jacks in shooting percentage at 15.9%. Perdion has taken the third-most shots on the team (107). Before reaching the NAHL, Perdion played 46 games for the Cleveland Barons 16U AAA in 2019-20 (30g, 19a). He finished first in scoring and second in points. Perdion has seven points in his last five games (4g, 3a). He has scored one goal in the four games against New Mexico this season.
Photo credit: Danne Braden