The Texas Tornado opened their NAHL weekend set with the visiting Odessa Jackalopes on Friday night. Texas had ten goals from nine different players in the contest to establish a new NAHL single game season high.
In the first period the Tornado opened the scoring at 8:50 when Alex Temby gave the puck to Justin Greenberg at the near half wall. Greenberg carried it to the top of the near circle and sent a wrister off of Nick Deery’s stick and in.
Odessa would knot things up just over 40 seconds later on an Alexey Soloviev turn over deep in the Tornado zone. Jalen Krogman grabbed the puck with an unimpeded path to the goal and fired a shot past Hunter Leisner.
At 12:21 Temby got things started again as he knocked down a clear at the far point. Jason Eddy skated the puck into the far circle and sent a wrister stick side to reestablish the one goal lead.
The second period was all Tornado with the first goal coming at 1:03. Brandon Platt hit Greenberg just inside the blueline and he carried the puck down the far wall to the top of the left wing circle. Greenberg made a hard right turn cutting to the middle and then went back across the grain to put it over the right pad. They didn’t score again until the mid point of the period when the flood gates opened. Scott Conway entered the zone on the rush and dropped it for Mitch McPherson who found Brandon Hawkins on the left wing for his league leading 30th goal of the season. Time of the goal was 10:27. At 14:13, Louie Rowe gave the puck to Neville on the near wing for a onetimer that Derry kicked to the far corner. CJ Reuschlein grabbed the puck below the goal line and sent an impossible angle shot off the inside of Derry’s pads and in. At 17:04, Neville took a pass from Mitch Mueller in the neutral zone and stick handled around Matthew Montemurro before sending it top shelf just inside the far elbow. Conway picked up the secondary assist. The final goal of the period came at 19:19 off the stick of new comer AJ Duggan. Duggan sent the puck deep into the zone then headed toward the net. Brett Heikkila pulled the puck off the end boards centering it to Duggan and he put it past the glove hand.
Odessa scored their second and final goal at 5:50 of the third on a goal through traffic by Mike Mezzano from Krogman.
While the Jackalopes were done scoring the Tornado were not. At 9:33 Neville sent Duggan down the far boards into the zone. Duggan drew the defense to him then slid a pass to TJ Paine who drove the net and put the puck through Phil Heinle who had replaced Derry between the pipes to start the period. Texas got their first powerplay opportunity mid way through the period and just as the powerplay expired Michael Hoy sent a shot from the near half wall. Heinle made the save but lost track of the rebound resulting in a mad scramble in front of the net. Conway managed to pull it out of the pile and flipped it over the sprawled netminder at 13:35. Texas closed out the scoring at 14:16 while on the powerplay. There was a multi player puck battle behind the Odessa goal and when the puck squirted free, Jackson Leef curled out front and fired a wrist shot over Heinle’s left shoulder.
“We have a lot of skill on the offensive side, but the good new is that we are starting to play both ways,” head coach Tony Curtale said following the game. “We have a lot of young guys and all a coach can ask for is that they work hard and play smart. They have been doing that lately.”
When asked his evaluation of AJ Duggan Curtale stated “first, he is a really good kid and fine player. He has a real good shot that you saw on his goal tonight. He is a big hitter and had a couple of big hits in the game.”
The Tornado outshot the Jackalopes 36 – 21 and both teams were 1 – 3 on the powerplay. Texas extended its winning streak to seven and 12 of their last 13. Neville had 4 points (1G-3A) and was a +6 to earn third star honors. Conway was named second start with 3 points (1G-2A) and Greenberg’s 2 goals and +4 garnered the Plano native the number one star.