By Joey Battaino, Odessa Jackalopes
Wichita Falls 5 @ Odessa 4 (SO) - The JackShack in Odessa was alive with the sound of 1,122 screaming children this morning for the first annual “School Day with SlapJack”. Schools from all over the Midland/Odessa area came out to watch the Jacks take on the third place Wichita Falls Wildcats (12-4-0) in an 11:00am early matinee. The Jacks were coming off a weekend in Amarillo in which they picked up one of a possible four points against the Bulls. Wichita Falls was idle this past weekend, but was coming off of a sweep of the Bulls on November 6th, 7th, and 8th.
The Jacks gave the crowd something to cheer about 11:51 into the game. The Jacks tight-checking style gave the Wichita Falls defense fits in their zone. When they finally did get the puck to center ice, Christian Hausinger laid a nice dish over to Ian Mansfield, who put in his second goal of the season. Unfortunately, the Jacks got a little bit sloppy in their own zone late in the period, and Nick Farmer of the Wildcats was sent on a breakaway. He beat Johansson on the glove side to tie the game at 1-1. The Jacks outshot the Wildcats 15-9 in the period, but found themselves tied a one goal apiece at the end of the first.
After a Wichita Falls penalty, the Jacks struck on the power play at 6:20 of the second period on a end-to-end rush by Razmuz Waxin-Engback. He beat ‘Cats goal Austin Shaw with a shot in the upper-third to give the Jacks a 2-1 advantage. Again, the Wildcats would battle back. Evan Okeley scored a power play for the ‘Cats to tie the game and veteran Colin Staub put Wichita Falls out front for the first time in the game, 3-2. That’s how the score would stay heading into period number three.
The Jacks wasted little time, tying the game at 1:46 of the third on Alex Alger’s (Miami of Ohio) sixth goal of the season. Alger took a nice pass from behind the goal from Max Rasberg and beat the goaltender Shaw up over the glove. Hampus Sjodahl gave the Jacks their third lead of the game at 12:45 on an unassisted tally from the slot area to pick up his sixth goal of the season. Again, the Wildcats would battle back. On a shot from the top of the left circle, Shane Kuzmeski tied the game at four on a shot that Robin Johansson never picked up off of his stick. This game was headed for overtime.
The Jacks had a glorious chance to end the game in overtime with only four seconds left. There was a scrum in the front of the Wildcats goal and Drew McLean emerged with the puck on his backhand and a yawning net in front of him, but had the puck was knocked away from him.
The Jacks got goals in the five-man shootout from Hampus Sjodahl and Derek Brown, but the ‘Cats were one better with goals from Alex Falconer, Nick Farmer, and the game-winning goal by Jake Townsend. The ‘Cats won the shootout, 3-2 and the game by a final of 5-4. The Jacks have not won since opening night on October 30th, but have managed to pick up three points in that span to stay within five points of the final playoff spot in the South division.