Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jackalopes rise to the occasion

Odessa wins Game Three 6-3

Down but not out after two consecutive losses at the Ector County Coliseum, the Odessa Jackalopes were on a mission. With the next two games at the NYTEX Sports Centre, there was no way they could consider any possibility but winning. It was time to step up. And step up they did.

With Juha Toivonen defending their net, Odessa’s three first-period strikes led the way for a 6-3 final score against the defending President’s Cup champion Texas Brahmas, cutting the Brahmas’ series lead in half and extending the series to at least five games.

The NYTEX fans were in top form as the game began, hurling comments at the Jackalopes players and beating on the metal wall panels to the beat of “Let’s go Brahmas”. Their enthusiasm diminished as the events of the first frame unfolded.

A board checking call of Jason Deitsch led to the Jackalopes’ first power play of the game. It took Jeff Pierce just 26 seconds to open up the scoring after a battle in front of the Brahmas’ net. Pierce was able to beat Brett Jaeger inside the right post to make it a 1-0 contest at the 4:50 mark.

Two-and-a-half minutes later, Odessa defenseman Garrett Gruenke made it 2-0 after taking possession of a loose puck at the left point and fired the puck past Jaeger through a screen in front of the Texas net.

A second defensive tally came at the 10:32 mark when Alex Dunn managed to force the puck through a crowded crease as several players scrambled for possession in front of the net.

The Texas offense would produce just four shots on goal compared to 17 for the Jackalopes and after 20 minutes, the Brahmas went into the locker room with a seemingly impossible deficit to overcome.

The Brahmas came back in the second period, scoring a pair of power play goals to bring them with reach of tying the game.

Collin Circelli was called for elbowing after he rung Grant Jacobsen’s bell near the penalty box he was about to visit. Jordan Cameron scored on a slap shot from the left circle 28 seconds later to make it 3-1 at the 3:51 mark.

Just past the midway point of the middle frame, and taking advantage of a 5-on-3, Justin Kinnunen scored on a setup by Tyler Skworchinski to make it a 3-2 contest at the 10:33 mark.

Texas had the 16-12 shot advantage in the period and entered the second intermission down by one score.

Any hopes of a comeback for the home team were doused when Odessa scored two goals in less than a minute to go up 5-2.

Odessa took a 4-2 lead at the 3:54 mark when Pierce scored his second of the game, poking the puck into the net.

Less than a minute later, Mike Ramsay scored on a rebound, making it 5-2 at the 6:41 mark.

Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong changed goalies, placing Joe Palmer in net. Palmer stopped six of six in relief of Jaeger.

Adam Chorneyko scored the feel good goal for the Brahmas at the 14:43 mark to pull Texas back within two, but Odessa’s defense held them off.

Odessa added an empty-net goal with 1:18 left to seal the final score at 6-3.

Jaeger made 32 saves on 37 shots and took his first loss of the post season. Toivonen stopped 28 of 31 and earned his first win.

Game Four takes place on Friday night at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

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