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Cats split in Odessa

The Wildcats split their weekend series in their first trip to Odessa against the Jackalopes. Friday was a 4-3 overtime win, while Saturday saw the 'Cats unable to hold a one-goal lead late in a 2-1 loss.

On Friday, the Wildcats went down early, but kept battling back until they won in a shootout, 4-3. The Jackalopes took advantage of two of their three first-period power play opportunities, as Sheldon Taylor and Tyler Poulsen each scored with the man advantage for a 2-0 lead, outshooting the Wildcats 13-9 in the process.  The 'Cats shook off the slow start and tied the game in the second, as Patrick Yudez tallied an unassisted goal, followed by Tyler Hope scoring off a pass from Yudez on a two-on-one with under a minute to go, knotting things at 2-2.

The score held through much of the third period, until Lawrence Cornellier's rocket from the high slot gave the Jackalopes the lead once again. But with 2:05 left, the Wildcats managed to tie things once again as Brad Shumway raced in to pick up a rebound from Chris Pontello's shot from the left-side faceoff circle. Adam Wilcox added the secondary assist, his first NAHL point. The Wildcats outshot the Jackalopes 20-4 in the third period.

The Wildcats started the overtime period with a power play, but couldn't score on it, despite managing 5 shots on goal. Likewise at the other end, Odessa put four pucks on Matt Leon, but couldn't get any past him. The game progressed to a shootout that went nine rounds. Dennis Kravchenko scored as the Wildcats' second shooter, followed by Jalen Krogman evening it up as Odessa's third shooter. The shootout remained even until Chris Pontello scored for the Wildcats, followed by Matt Leon stopping Nils Semjonovs to seal the victory for the Wildcats. Leon was named first star, stopping 31/34 shots in 65 minutes and 9/10 in the shootout. Pontello was named second star with an assist and the shootout winner, and Odessa goalie Connor Hellebuyck was the third star, stopping 45/48 and 8/10 in the shootout.

Saturday's game was the opposite for the Wildcats– a strong start, but fizzling at the end as they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Jackalopes.

The Wildcats controlled the opening period nicely, outshooting Odessa 18-8 and scoring the lone goal of the period, as Zach Pochiro put one in the net with 3:37 to play in the period, assisted by Tyler Hope and Nate Chasteen.

The game remained the same for nearly another 40 minutes with the Wildcats holding the 1-0 lead, but the Jackalopes tied it with 3:56 left in the third, with Sheldon Taylor scoring his second goal of the weekend. With momentum going their way, the Jackalopes scored the game-winner with 5 seconds left in regulation, as once again Lawrence Cornellier proved to be a thorn in the Wildcats side, as his shot taken while falling got deflected on its way to the net, beating Matt Leon high stick side for what would prove to be the game-winner. Leon stopped 29 or 31 for the third star of the game. Hellebuyck's 39/40 night got him the second star, and Cornellier's game-winner got him the first.

The Wildcats head out to Kansas to take on the Topeka Roadrunners next weekend to complete their eight-game road swing.