Tornado shut down Jackalopes for 3-0 victory
The Texas Tornado got goals from three of their lighter scorers on Saturday, all within 2:59 seconds of each other, to come away with a 3-0 victory against the Odessa Jackalopes. Just 24 hours after the Tornado were stopped 48 times by Odessa goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, Texas was able to get three goals in rapid succession for the win. Joakim Jutras earned his third shutout of the season, making 22 saves to improve his record 11-1-3 on the season.
On Friday, it took 50 minutes of play for either team to get on the board and after the first period on Saturday, it looked like more of the same. Friday’s game featured a more back-and-forth style of play, with both teams generating plenty of scoring chances in the first. On Saturday, play was a little bit slower, with both teams opting to dump in chase through the neutral zone. But like the night before, neither team was able to beat the opposing team’s goaltender in the opening period.
It was still scoreless midway through the second until Jordan Greenberg found the puck at his stick behind the Odessa net. He found Skyler Spiller—who was breaking into the zone off the bench—cutting into the slot. Spiller unleashed a wicked wrist shot over the glove hand of Hellebuyck to give the Tornado are 1-0 lead. The goal was Spiller’s second of the season, and his first since October 7th against New Mexico.
Tornado head coach Tony Curtale kept Spiller’s line out on the ice after the goal, a decision which paid dividends after the Tornado picked up another goal just 19 seconds later. Michael Miller corralled the puck at the right point for the Tornado and sent a wrist shot towards goal. All three Tornado forwards surrounded Hellebuyck looking for a deflection, and it was Mitchell McPherson who ended up getting his stick on the puck to redirect it past Hellbuyck for the goal. McPherson now has two goals on the season after scoring on November 18th against Amarillo.
Just two minutes later, Texas found itself on the power-play with a chance to extend its lead to three, which is exactly what they did. Odessa tried to clear the zone, but John Kirtland dropped to his knees to prevent the puck from escaping the zone. He controlled it, got his feet moving and took a wrist shot the beat Hellebuyck high on the blocker side to make it a 3-0 game. The goal is Kirtland’s first of the season after he scored once in 30 games with the Tornado last season.
That was all for the game’s scoring, though the Tornado had their chances to increase their lead even further after a four-minute checking-from-behind penalty late in the second to Andrew Palushaj, who was also given a game ejection. Texas could not capitalize on the double-minor, however, which carried over into the third period. In the final 90 seconds, Mico Solorzano and Willie Faust got locked up in front of the Tornado bench, with Solorzano picking up an extra roughing minor in the tussle. Jutras kept the Jackalopes off the board on their final power-play, though, as the Tornado moved to 16-3-6 on the season, good for second in the South Division behind Amarillo.
With the win, Texas now has points in 12 straight games. They will be back in action next Friday in Rio Rancho, New Mexico for a two-game weekend series against the New Mexico Mustangs.