The Lone Star Brahmas opened the second half of their NAHL season at the Ector County Coliseum looking to leapfrog the Odessa Jackalopes in the standings. The Brahmas have been turning things up recently and looked to keep things rolling against the team they were tied with in the standings. For much of the game the Brahmas appeared to be snake bitten as they dominated play everywhere but on the scoreboard coming just inches from blowing the Jackalopes out.
The first period saw Andrew McLean go off for a kneeing penalty on Matt Lison at 4:14. This is nothing new for McLean as he has already served a suspension this season for kneeing. With about 35 seconds to go in the Brahmas’ powerplay Jan Hudecek ripped one off the cross bar from the rightwing circle. The period was punctuated by a 1:35 long Odessa 5 on 3 powerplay. The Brahmas limited the Jackalopes to three shots on goal with the two man advantage to send the game to the first intermission deadlocked at zero.
Odessa jumped on top early in the second as Matt Beranek knifed down an Alexey Solovyev clearing attempt at the blueline and sent it to Connor Thie low on the far side. Thie spotted Trace Jablin coming back into the play on the backdoor. Jablin drove the front of the net and collided with TJ Black as he slid the puck into the net. Time of the goal was 1:55.
At the midpoint of the period, Liam Stirtzinger stole the puck in neutral ice and hit Ryan Watson in stride. Watson had beaten Chris Taff and went steaming in on Eric Hancock but his shot caromed off the left post. Watson had another opportunity from the left wing circle with under two minutes to go. His shot once again had Hancock beat, but this time he rang it off the right post.
Lone Star came out of the second intermission buzzing and an early face off to Hancock’s right led to another dent in the post. Kellen Wasell pulled the draw back to Nick Blasé at the near point for a blast through traffic which Hancock never saw. However the shot rank off the post and all the way out of the zone. The Brahmas went on another powerplay at 11:53 and this time it took them only 16 seconds to find the back of the net. Wasell skated the puck deep below the goal line and sent a centering pass to Johan Steen in the high slot. Steen fired a blast off of Hancock and Wasell who had followed his pass to the front of the net pounded home the rebound. About two minutes after the Wasell goal it looked as though the Brahmas had taken the lead off a mad scramble in front of the Jackalopes net. Several Lone Star players took swipes at the puck and with it still loose the referee lost sight blowing it dead just as it was sent across the line lighting the goal lamp. Neither team was able to score the rest of the way in regulation sending the game to overtime.
Play was wide open in the overtime period with both teams having breakaway opportunities that were turned aside by the goaltenders. With the strong play in net by both Black and Hancock the game would be decided in a shootout.
RJ Salvato was up first for the Brahmas and stick handled down the middle before ripping it over Hancock’s’ blocker to give the visitors an early lead.
The lead was short lived as Alex Alger shot first for Odessa and found room between Black’s left arm and body to knot it up at one apiece. Neither team would score again until the fifth round because of some big saves by both netminders.
Gordie Helmuth must have paid close attention to Salvato’s goal as he carried it straight down the gut and fired it blocker side to beat Hancock.
With Odessa facing a do or die situation they sent Connor Chambers onto the ice. He skated it slowly down the left side, turned on the speed as he cut across the goal mouth and tucked it inside the right post.
Lison was up next for the Brahmas. Matt picked the puck up with speed, drove it down the left side and sent into the twine five hole.
With Lison’s goal in the sixth round all that was left was for Black to stone Thie as the next shooter for Odessa and that is precisely what he did with a big glove save to capture the win and move the Brahmas into sole possession of sixth place in the division. The Brahmas now set eight points behind Corpus Christi with three games in hand over the Icerays.
For one of only a hand full of times this season, the Brahmas outshot Odessa 33 – 20 on the night. They were also 1 – 4 on the man advantage while holding the Jackalopes to 0 – 2.
Elsewhere Around the NAHL South
Rio Grande – Corpus Christi
Rio Grande went into Corpus Christi and got a 2 – 1 win over the Icerays. Ben Greiner started the scoring for the Killer Bees just 21 seconds into the second period. Jake Durflinger’s powerplay goal at 17:26 pulled the Icerays even. Evan Schmidbauer tallied at 1:08 of the third to reestablish the Rio Grande lead and they held on from there for the win. Nick Schmit stopped 25 of 26 for the win.
Topeka – Springfield
Topeka playing host to the Springfield Junior Blues, got first and third period goals from Jake Kamrass in front of a 17 save performance by PJ Bridges for the 2 – 0 shutout. Stefanos Lekkas saw a lot of rubber facing 48 shots to take the tough luck loss.