Thursday, November 26, 2009

Odessa gets revenge against the Brahmas

Tyler Skworchinski leads Texas offense in 5-3 loss

The Odessa Jackalopes earned a rare win at the NYTEX Sports Centre last night with a 5-3 victory over the Texas Brahmas on Wednesday night.

With the loss, the Brahmas record falls to 7-8-2 (.471) with 16 points. They remain in fifth place in the Southern Conference; a point behind Laredo, four points behind Rio, five points behind Allen and 12 points behind Odessa.

The scoring started after a hooking call on Brahmas captain Craig Minard gave Odessa their first man-advantage of the evening. The league's number one power play got right to work and 39 seconds later, it was Sebastien Thinel who managed to pick up a deflection just outside the crease and slap the puck past Brett Jaeger to make it a 1-0 game at the 4:42 mark. Mike Lesperance and Jeff Pierce were credited with the assist. This was the the Jackalopes' 15th straight game scoring a power play goal.

Midway through the first frame, Matt Burto rushed the net and sent a shot in which bounced off the pads of Odessa net minder Joel Martin. Tyler Skworchinski was right there to pick up the rebound and send it though Martin's five hole to tie the game at the 11:06 mark.

What followed was a melee that resulted in 30 minutes worth of penalties on six players. Odessa defenseman Garret Gruenke, who failed to clear the puck from the crease to prevent the score, pounced on Skworchinski and drove into the boards behind the net. Line mates Burto and Hiebert came to his aid and it was Hiebert who jumped Gruenke like a cat climbing a tree and started wailing on him. Kenny Bernard pulled Hiebert (and Gruenke) down to the ice and them Skworchinski subdued Bernard. Brahmas defenseman Luke Sellars and Odessa forward Paul Kelly also mixed it up.

Hiebert and Gruenke would receive five minute Fighting Majors with Hiebert getting the bonus two minute Fighting (Instigator) and a 10 minute No Category Misconduct. Skworchinski and Bernard would each receive two minute Roughing calls. Sellars got two minutes for Interference and Kelly got two minutes for Unsportsmanlike Conduct.

Kory Karlander scored for Odessa with just 11 seconds left in the period to regain the one-goal lead. Kenny Bernard assisted. The Jackalopes had an 11-7 shot advantage and the 2-1 lead after the first frame.

The second period continued with aggressive play and both teams alternated men to the penalty box through the first half of the frame. Odessa needed only four seconds of its power play brought on by an interference call against Luke Sellars to increase its lead to 3-1 on a Colin Circelli goal (his 12th of the season) at the 12:57 mark. Mike Ramsay and Jeff Pierce were credited with the assist.

Just one minute later, the Brahmas made it 3-2 when Justin Kinnunen's wrist shot from the left circle trickled past Joel Martin along the left goal post at the 13:57 mark. James Hiebert was in on the assist.

The Jackalopes would regain a two-goal lead on Jeff Pierce's breakaway goal at the 18:12 mark. Pierce, who had just exited the penalty box after serving two minutes for Cross Checking, took a pass from Phiippe Plante and fired the puck over Jaeger's right shoulder to make it a 4-2 game.

The period would end with a 13-9 Brahmas shot advantage (even at 20 after 40 minutes).

5:39 into the third period, Dave Van Drunen scored a fluky goal after deflecting Colin Circelli's shot over Brett Jaeger's head. Patrick Mbaraga was credited with an assist.

Too little, too late in the period, Tyler Skworchinski scored his second goal of the game on a slap shot from the left circle to set the final score at 5-3 at the 18:43 mark. Justin Kinnunen and Craig Minard assisted.

The Brahmas had the 13-10 shot count in the final frame and a 33-30 count in the game.

Fort Worth native Joel Martin made 30 saves on 33 shots and earned the win. His record goes to 7-1-1. Brett Jaeger had 25 saves on 30 shots and takes the loss. His record falls to 3-6-0.

The Brahmas went 0 for 7 on the power play. Odessa went 2 for 6. The Brahmas were assessed 29 minutes on 9 infractions; Laredo received 21 minutes on 9 infractions.

The 3rd Star of the game went to Justin Kinnunen for a goal and an assist on the night. The 2nd Star was awarded to Tyler Skworchinski, who scored two goals and the 1st Star went to Odessa's Colin Circelli who scored a power play goal and also had an assist.

You can view the box score

You can view my photos from the game


  • Unfortunate night for Jaeger. After the loss, he ranks 23rd in the league with a 3.81 GAA and 24th with a .865 save percentage. He has six regulation losses compared to nine last season and six in 2007-08 (in which he played 22 games).
  • The three hardest working Brahmas on the ice were Justin Kinnunen, Matt Burto and Tyler Skworchinski. I saw some good defensive plays from Jordan Cameron also.
  • The ineffective power play is beyond getting old. 0 for 7 opportunities. I've said it before; if you can't score with an advantage, how do you expect to score enough on even strength? The penalty kill is also suffering. The Brahmas sit in 13th place with a 80.18 percentage.
  • The Brahmas have alternated wins and losses for the last seven games. Let's hope that continues for at least one more game for a win on Friday night.

The Brahmas will be in Tulsa on Friday night to take on the Oilers at the BOK Center. On Saturday night they play the Americans in Allen before returning to NYTEX for a Sunday afternoon bout against the Oilers.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

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