Odessa Jackalopes (29-24-1-4, 63pts) vs. New Mexico Ice Wolves (36-17-2-3, 77pts)
at Outpost Ice Arenas in Albuquerque, NM
Time: Friday 8:30 p.m. CDT | Saturday 7:30 CDT
Broadcast: (Away) HockeyTV | Listen Live Here
What You Need to Know:
Season Series: 4-2
ODA: 41pts, Duclair (22g-19a)
NMO: 57pts, Bentley (29g-28a)
This is the final regular-season weekend for the NAHL. While Odessa is out of the playoffs, they are one win away from 30 on the season. Which would make them just the second team in Jackalopes history to have at least 30 wins. As for New Mexico, this is their third year in the NAHL and the first time they will be in the playoffs. The South Division is already set as first place lone star will face Shreveport in the first round. New Mexico will face Wichita Falls but the Ice Wolves are only one point ahead of the Warriors. The top two teams from each division get home-ice advantage in the first round which is a best of five. Meaning, that New Mexico still has a lot to play for since they could drop from having two guaranteed home games to only one. Odessa will go into their final weekend on a two-game win streak after sweeping Amarillo last weekend. The Ice Wolves split last weekend with Lone Star.
The Puck Stops Here:
Out of the six games, Odessa and New Mexico have played each other this season, none of the final scores were separated by more than two goals. The Jacks are the only team Beni Halasz has yet to beat (0-2-0-1). However, he has a record of 25-13-0-3 and a goals-against-average of 2.14 which ranks him third among all NAHL goalies. The other goalie for New Mexico is Carsen Stokes, who is 1-0 versus the Jackalopes this season. He is the only goalie to have shut out the Jacks all year. Stokes has an overall record of 8-2-1 but is 6-1-1 with New Mexico. For Odessa, their two goalies are Alex Proctor and Noah Rupprecht. Proctor has a record of 21-16-1-3. His 43 games played are the third most in the NAHL and he is in the top five for minutes (2,443) and saves (1,247). Proctor is 3-2 versus the Ice Wolves this season. Rupprecht is 8-7-0-1 this year and has a 2.80GAA and a .918SV%. He is a perfect 1-0 against New Mexico. Odessa has the second-most goals in the South at 189 and New Mexico has allowed the second-fewest goals in the league at 141.
Odessa enters their final weekend of the season with a powerplay percentage of 13.9%. Which ranks them 28th in the league. As for New Mexico, their powerplay success rate is 19.8%. Putting them 16th across the NAHL. The Ice Wolves have 39 power-play goals this season which is 14th in the league. The Jacks have 29 which ties them for 24th out of 29 teams. The penalty kill for the Ice Wolves has been very dangerous all year. They are ranked 5th on the kill at 84.5% but they have the most short-handed goals at 15. Back on March 25th, New Mexico scored two short-handed goals against Odessa (season-high). The Jacks have only allowed five short-handed goals all season. New Mexico has only allowed two short-handed goals all season which is the fewest in the league. Odessa is 19th on the penalty kill with a success rate of 79%. They have ten shorthanded goals this year which are tied for the fifth-most.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Jackalopes (F: #28 – Tanyon Bajzer)
The rookie from Cleveland, OH is coming off the best weekend of his NAHL career. The 19-year-old finished with four goals last weekend against Amarillo, which does not include his shootout winner on Saturday. Due to his terrific performance on the ice, the 6’1”/170lbs. right-handed forward earned the South Division Star of the Week. He has also scored the last four goals for Odessa. Bajzer currently has 17 goals this season and 11 assists. He is sixth on the team in points. His shooting percentage of 17.3% is the highest among his teammates. Prior to joining the NAHL, Bajzer played for Gilmour Academy (USHS-Prep). Last season he totaled 17 goals and 27 assists in 47 games played for them. Putting him second on the team in points. The year before that (2019-20), Bajzer boasted 31 goals and 31 assists for Gilmour Academy in 51 games. Also finished that season second in points. Bajzer has four points (3g, 1a) in his five games against New Mexico this season.
Ice Wolves (F: #14 – Tony Leahy)
The Roseville, MN native is in his first season in the NAHL. The 19-year-old currently has ten goals and ten assists which puts him tied for tenth on the team in points. His ten goals are tied for the fifth-most among his teammates. Four of his goals have been game-winners which is tied for the second-most on the Ice Wolves roster. The 6’0”/175lbs. left-handed forward has registered five points in his previous five games (4g, 1a). Leahy was drafted 40th overall by New Mexico in 2021. He has played in all six games against the Jacks this season and has tallied four points (2g, 2a). Before reaching the NAHL, Leahy spent three years playing for Roseville High (USHS-MN). In total, he scored 42 goals and had 43 assists in 68 games played. He was their captain in 2019-20 and led the team in points by scoring 20 goals and 20 assists in 25 games.