Odessa hands Brahmas 5-1 loss
Jackalopes even series at 2-2
One way to sum up the Southern Conference Semi-final series between the Odessa Jackalopes and the Texas Brahmas would be to call it “the series of the road team.” The Jackalopes came into the NYTEX Sports Center fresh off a 6-3 game three win and left with another lopsided victory, coming out on top of the Brahmas 5-1 to even the CHL Southern Conference Semi-Final series at 2-2.
Odessa jumped out to a 3-0 lead in an eventful first period that saw 20 combined shots, 23 combined penalty minutes and an early goalie change. Mike Ramsay scored at 7:09 of the period, beating Brahmas goalie Brett Jaeger off of a rebound. Mike Lesperance and Kenny Bernard were awarded the assists.
The Jackalopes scoring machine pumped out a power play goal at 12:53, as Collin Circelli scored while James Hiebert was in the penalty box serving a two minute minor for roughing. :01 remained on the penalty to Hiebert when Circelli sailed the puck into a wide open net to the left of a sprawled out Jaeger. Alex Dunn and Bernard tallied the helpers.
The third Jackalopes’ goal came at 15:07 of the period when Sebastien Thinel had enough time to knock in his own rebound past Jaeger. Jeff Pierce and Circelli provided the assists on the play. Following the goal, Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong wasted little time pulling Jaeger in favor of backup Joe Palmer.
Palmer stopped 2 shots in the 4:53 he played in the first. Hiebert would receive the hook at 17:17 of the opening period, as he drew a five minute major for slashing and a 10 minute game misconduct. The call was made after Circelli was sent to the box to serve a two minute minor on an incidental high stick.
The Jackalopes outshot the Brahmas 14-12 in a hard hitting second period. In fact, one hit was hard enough that the game had to be delayed for about 14 minutes to replace a pane of glass. Jackalopes net minder Juha Toivonen played solid in net, as he continued to have a perfect save percentage on the night and neither team scored in the middle frame.
The Brahmas caught a break at 1:39 of the third period, as Odessa’s Dave Van Drunen was sent to the box for tripping. However, a tough Jackalopes penalty kill would up the defensive pressure and the Brahmas would not manage a single shot on goal during the man advantage.
Jeff Pierce added to the Jackalopes’ lead at 7:11 of the third period, as he poked in his own rebound top shelf past Palmer to make the score 4-0. Patrick Mbaraga and Thinel were given the assists. Tyler Skworchinski nearly answered Pierce’s goal as he rang a shot off of the cross bar from the left circle at 8:30 of the period.
Kevin Seibel would finally break Toivonen’s shutout bid and get the Brahmas on the board at 14:18 of the final period. Assists were given to Adam Chorneyko and Matt Burto on the shot that Seibel released from the right side near the blue line. The goal was Seibel’s first of the playoffs.
A little excitement occurred in the Brahmas’ crease at the 15:34 mark of the period. Palmer would make a save and hold on to freeze the puck, and as Jeff Pierce skated through the crease Skworchinski would take exception and knock him to the ice. After a brief pow wow cooler heads prevailed as Skworchinski and Lesperance would be sent to the box for roughing.
Thinel found the net again at 18:47 of the third as he intercepted a pass and sailed it into the net past Palmer. The unassisted marker closed out the scoring for the night and even the series at two games each. Game five is scheduled for Saturday night at the Ector County Coliseum.
Article written by John Hall of Pro Hockey News
Photo Credit: Robert Keith