NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE: Jackalopes face quick turnaround

The Odessa Jackalopes haven’t had much time to dwell on last weekend’s series loss to the New Mexico Ice Wolves because of the shortened practice week.

After losing to New Mexico on Sunday and Monday in North Richland Hills, the Jackalopes arrived home just three days before they return to the scene of the crime to face the Lone Star Brahmas.

The Jackalopes had to play the Ice Wolves in North Richland Hills at the NYTEX Sports Centre due to the COVID restrictions in New Mexico.

While Odessa was dealt a 2-1 loss on Sunday and a 1-0 loss on Monday, head coach Jason Fortier said the short week gives the team a chance to quickly respond.

“We have a shortened work week,” Fortier said. “But nothing has changed. Tuesday was an optional day and today we had a team practice.

“It’s a late work week. Guys are making sure to take care of their bumps and bruises and getting therapy and treatment. But it’s also pretty good because it doesn’t let you dwell on your mistakes. It gives us the opportunity to get right back at it and not over think things.”

It was the first time that the Jackalopes had faced the Ice Wolves in the North American Hockey League regular season this year.

>> CLOSE LOSSES: The sweep by New Mexico was Odessa’s fourth consecutive loss.

Only once in that stretch did the Jackalopes lose by more than a single goal and that came in their 5-3 defeat to Shreveport on New Year’s Day at Ector County Coliseum.

The losses put Odessa at 7-10-2 for the season with 16 points and in fourth place in the NAHL South Division standings.

Fortier is hopeful that the one-goal defeats can be a source of added motivation for the team.

“Hopefully, we’re learning that being on the wrong side of it can be really frustrating,” Fortier said. “You go out and compete and if you don’t get the result, it can be depressing.”

It hasn’t been all bad, said Fortier, adding there have been plenty of positives from the group in the last week.

In Sunday’s game, the Jackalopes outshot the Ice Wolves 30-22 despite being limited to one goal.

On Monday, Odessa once again outshot New Mexico, finishing with 27 total shots on goal while the Ice Wolves had 15.

“On the scoreboard, it wasn’t there,” Fortier said. “It tells a story that we’re not being gritty enough when we get to the net.

“We’re not forcing pucks to the net and making plays as a group. Hats off to their goaltending and defense, but our guys have to learn from that and play with confidence of making that play.”

>> LONE STAR: The Brahmas enter this week’s series still at the top of the NAHL South Division Standings at 16-6-1 with 33 points.

However, the Jackalopes won their last series against the Brahmas when Odessa took two of three games last month.

December’s series was the only time the teams have faced each other this season.

Fortier said Lone Star will be a different looking team from the last time the Jackalopes played them.

“I think they’ve added like four or five guys in the last week or two,” Fortier said. “The way we play, we match up against anybody. We have speed and talent.

“We just have to compete when we’re playing them. When we played Lone Star, we did a good job of playing with tenacity and I think we can be the toughest team in the league man for man. We just have to believe.”

The Brahmas are coming off a series split against the Amarillo Bulls last week.