Tornado edge Odessa in a shootout, 4-3
On a Wednesday night where head coach Tony Curtale admitted his team did not play its best game, the Texas Tornado picked up a 4-3 shootout victory over the Odessa Jackalopes at Dr Pepper Arena. Both teams got their share of shots on goal, but Joakim Jutras stopped 25 of 28 shots in the victory and pushed his record to 10-1-3 in his rookie season. With the win, Texas is four points behind Amarillo, who lost to Wichita Falls in overtime, for the lead in the South Division.
Fans did not have to wait long to see the first goal of the game, with Jack Prince picking up the opening marker just 38 seconds into the game. Prince stripped Jackalopes defenseman Bryan Mitchell of the puck behind the Odessa net and stuffed it inside the far post past goalie Connor Hellebuyck. The goal, his 11th of the season, tied the Tornado captain with Marc Biggs for the team lead in goals.
After a fight between Andrew Paras and Matthew Williams, Odessa tied the score on a goal from their captain, Sheldon Taylor. Taylor received a pass from Tyler Poulsen and fired it past Jutras from the left-wing circle at the 4:10 mark of the first period.
The teams would head to the first intermission tied at 1, but not before another pair of skaters dropped the gloves. Taylor and Skyler Spiller squared off at center ice just at 10:15 of the first, as both teams continued to ramp up the physical play.
With the teams still deadlocked at 1, Odessa looked to break out of its own zone. Taylor’s pass towards neutral zone re-directed off a skate and headed right to Drew Allen in the slot. Allen fought off a defenseman, then deked to his forehand and beat Hellebuyck to break the 1-1 tie. Texas took its lead to the third period, then extended it at 4:19 of the period on a goal by CJ Reuschlein. Reuschlein trailed the play as Biggs broke into the zone, but the Plano native smartly dropped a pass to Reuschlein, who unleashed a wrist shot that beat Hellebuyck to give Texas a 3-1 lead.
The third period goal was not enough to put the Jackalopes away, however. First, it was Taylor who drew Odessa within one with his second goal of the game. Curt Rau took a wrist shot from the blue line that Taylor redirected in the slot to beat Jutras and make it 3-2. Later in the period, Jalen Krogman centered a beautiful pass from behind the net to find Jackalopes leading goal scorer Willie Faust to tie the score at 3.
The teams remained tied through regulation and skated to a scoreless overtime. Much like the Tornado’s last shootout against Fresno, there was just one goal scored. Though it was Jordan Lovick who netted the shootout winner at Selland Arena, it was Prince who picked up the lone shootout goal on Wednesday to seal the win for Texas.
The Tornado and Jackalopes will play again this weekend, with a pair of games in Odessa on both Friday and Saturday.