Sunday, March 28, 2010

Brahmas win thriller in sudden death overtime

Skworchinski scores game winner with seven seconds left

After leading the Central Hockey League in the regular season with 48 wins and earning the Governor's Cup, the Odessa Jackalopes are suffering through a new season that is the playoffs at the hands of the defending league champion Texas Brahmas.

With just seven seconds left in a hard fought overtime period, the Brahmas' Tyler Skworchinski fired the puck past a stunned Joel Martin to secure the 3-2 victory and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Southern Conference semi-final. It was Skworchinski's second tally in a game that saw the Brahmas' special teams kill eight Odessa power plays and Brett Jaeger stop 46 of 48 shots to earn his fourth consecutive post-season win.

In front of a home crowd of 3,622, the Jackalopes came out of the gates playing much more aggressively than in Game One. They had several rushes on Brett Jaeger in the opening minute of the first period but were held off time and again by the Brahmas net minder.

Texas was more conservative, but made their first shot of the game count when Lee Jubinville caught a deflection off a Matt Burto shot and scored on Joel Martin at the 1:54 mark.

The tally didn't faze Odessa, who kept up their attack, sending wave after wave of shots against Jaeger. Nearing the mid-point of the first frame, Odessa's Jeff Pierce began to work the puck in from the blue line but was tripped up by a Brahmas defender. Before hitting the ice, Pierce managed to feed Sebastien Thinel, who sent in a shot past Jaeger from between the circles, evening the score at 1-1.

The Brahmas had several chances, but there would be no further scoring in the period. Joel Martin made diving saves on at least two shots that could have easily given the visitors additional scores. Texas defenseman Justin Kinnunen also had a shot hit the post during a power play opportunity. Odessa out shot the Brahmas 15-7 in the first 20 minutes of play.

The middle frame was highlighted by a breakdown in discipline between both teams, resulting in three consecutive power plays for the Brahmas followed by three consecutive power plays for the Jackalopes. The Brahmas would tally the only score of the period on their second man-advantage when Tyler Skworchinski found the back of the net at the 8:27 mark.

The Jackalopes out shot the Brahmas 10-7 in the period but were down 2-1 after 40 minutes.

Odessa opened the third frame with 1:21 left on a power play but failed again to convert on their fifth man-advantage.

Kory Karlander managed to score the equalizer on even strength after working his way out of the right wing corner and sending in a bullet from between the circles at the 2:23 mark.

For the third consecutive period, the Jackalopes out shot the Brahmas; this time 11-8. Despite a 36-22 shot advantage in regulation, the game would be forced into overtime, thanks in no small part to a spectacular effort by Brett Jaeger.

A 12-7 shot advantage and two more power plays through the extra frame didn't help the Jackalopes who sent everything they had against the brick wall that was the Brahmas net minder.

Just when it appeared the game might go into double-overtime, the Brahmas' Kinnunen emerged from the neutral zone with the puck and fed it to Tyler Skworchinski, who beat Joel Martin with the game-winner at the 19:53 mark.

Brett Jaeger stopped 46 of 48 shots faced to earn the win. Joel Martin allowed three goals on 30 shots and took his second consecutive loss.

The next two games will be held at NYTEX starting on Wednesday night.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

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