Tornado stymied by Odessa's Hellebuyck, lose 2-1 in shootout
The Texas Tornado struggled to decipher the puzzle that was Odessa Jackalopes goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who made 48 saves to drop the Tornado in a shootout, 2-1. Reid Mimmack did his part in net for the Tornado, but his 31 saves weren’t enough to earn the victory as his record falls to 5-1-3.
Friday was Texas’ first trip to Ector County Coliseum, though the Tornado did host the first-year NAHL team on Wednesday at Dr Pepper Arena. Wednesday’s game went into a shootout as well, but Texas did not have the same success as they did 48 hours prior, and the Jackalopes came away with the victory.
The first goal of the game did not come until the 10:17 mark of the third period, though it wasn’t due to lack of offensive attack. The two teams combined for a total of 29 shots in the first period alone, with the Tornado outshooting the Jackalopes 17-12 in the opening 20 minutes. Ondrej Kopta had the Tornado’s best chance of the first period after he deked past a defender in the slot to get one-on-one with Hellebuyck. Kopta went to his backhand, but Hellbuyck sprawled out for an outstanding glove save. Jackalopes forward Lawrence Cornellier had a breakaway of his own in the period, but Mimmack stoned him at the doorstep.
It was more of the same in the second period, with neither team able to get one past the other’s netminder. Hellebuyck was once again forced to be spectacular, and made 15 more saves for a total of 32 in the first two periods alone. Mimmack was not called into action as much in his counterpart and made nine saves in the second, but kept the Jackalopes off the board and it stayed 0-0 into the third period.
With the game scoreless as the team’s approached the 10 minute mark of third, the Tornado were finally able to break through. Jordan Lovick’s shot from the right wing was blocked by traffic in the slot, but it caromed out to Mychal Monteith, who was playing in just his second game with Texas since being acquired from Corpus Christi. It appeared that Monteith was able to fire it past Hellebuyck, but CJ Reuschlein was credited for the goal. Either way, the tally gave the Tornado a 1-0 lead.
With exactly three minutes remaining, however, Odessa drew even on a goal from Ryan Atkinson. The Tornado defense blocked a pair of shots on the initial rush into the zone, but Atkinson, the trailing man on the rush, found the puck at his stick in the slot and wristed it over Reid Mimmack’s blocker for the goal at 17:00 of the third period.
Neither team broke through in what remained of regulation or overtime, so the two teams went to a shootout for the second straight game. As he did on Wednesday, Jack Prince scored in the first round of the shootout to give the Tornado an early advantage. But they would not score again, as Hellebuyck shut the door on the next four Tornado shooters, while Willie Faust and Jalen Krogman each beat Mimmack to give Odessa the victory.
Texas and Odessa will be back on the ice at Ector County Coliseum on Saturday, with opening faceoff set for 7:05 p.m.