Saturday, 12.10.2016 / 10:14 pm CT
By Alex von Keudell
The longest winning streak in the NAHL came to an end in overtime on Saturday night, as the Jackalopes avoided being swept on home ice and skated away with a 3-2 victory.
It was Odessa’s Teddy Bear Toss Night on Saturday. As the Wildcats’ bus pulled into the Ector County Coliseum parking lot before the game, Coach Nelson said “I don’t want to see any teddy bears on the ice tonight.”
His dream was crushed just 73 seconds into the game. Odessa’s Tyler Pietrowski zipped across the Wichita Falls blue line and ripped a shot high over the blocker of Evan Moyse on the Jackalopes’ very first shot of the contest.
In response, the Wildcats played arguably their best period of the series. Twelve minutes into the game after Roman Kinal was sent to the penalty box for the second straight time, Ryan Burnett sliced through the neutral zone on a shorthanded breakaway. He snuck a shot inside the right post to beat Jon Flakne glove-side and tie the game. Burnett’s goal was his team-leading 11th of the season, as well as his team-leading third shorthanded tally. The Wildcats would outshoot the Jackalopes 18-8 through the first twenty minutes.
Odessa had the better of play in period two. Jaden Anderson scored his second goal in as many games 6:48 into the middle period, skating into the zone with blazing speed and rifling a heavy wrist shot from the top of the right circle. His snipe was nearly identical to his goal on Friday night, and he regained Odessa’s lead.
Jonathan Waring and Roman Kinal each got into their first fights as Wildcats late in the second. Waring fought Riley Bechard, an experienced fighter, while Kinal fought Zach Zech, Odessa’s number two scorer. Waring hauled Bechard to the ice to win his first fight of the season, while Kinal and Zech were separated rather quickly by the linesmen. Each team started period three without two important players.
In the third, the Cats struggled to chip the puck out of their own zone without icing it. They were tasked with taking several defensive zone faceoffs with only four defensemen available for much of the period.
Once Waring and Kinal returned, the Cats got the spark they needed. With Moyse pulled for a sixth attacker, Ricky Carballo slammed home the game tying goal with just 46 seconds remaining. His goal tied Burnett for the team lead with 11 on the season, and was also his 11th point in his last six games played.
For the third straight game, the South Division rivals went to overtime. Just 24 seconds before a shootout would have been necessary, Chase Thudium cut into the zone and slung a shot over Moyse’s glove from the mid-slot for his third goal in two games. Despite the road defeat, the Wildcats took five of a possible six points from the extended road series.
Moyse was 31 of 34 in net and was given his third overtime defeat of the season, while Flakne was 37 for 39 to earn his fourth victory. The Wildcats and Brahmas play each other next weekend to battle for first place in the South Division.