NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE: Jackalopes to face IceRays for the first time this season

For once, the Odessa Jackalopes won’t have to take on the El Paso Rhinos or the Shreveport Mudbugs.

After going up against the Rhinos for what has felt like the majority of the season-both sides have faced each other seven times this year-the Jackalopes will instead get to see a different side this weekend.

The Jackalopes (who are currently 10-10-2 and sit in seventh place in the North American Hockey League South Division with 24 points) will meet up with the Corpus Christi IceRays for the first time this season in this week’s two-game series at home.

The series will begin with a 7:15 game Friday at Ector County Coliseum before following up on Saturday at the same time.

The IceRays enter just one spot behind the Jackalopes, sitting in eighth at 9-14-1 with 21 points.

>> HOPING THE ICE IS SAFE: While both teams will obviously be looking to get victories in their win column, they’ll also be hoping to finish this series without any cancellations.

Last week, the Jackalopes began their home series against El Paso with a 2-1 victory on Friday.

However, neither side could finish the series as Saturday’s game was cancelled due to the unsafe ice conditions at Ector County Coliseum.

A make-up date for the game will be determined at a later date.

“I was disappointed that we weren’t able to play,” Odessa head coach Scott Deur said. “The ice was not in any condition to play. We’ve taken measures this week to make sure it won’t happen again. In the interest of players’ safety and watching out for them, there was no way we were going to play that game so we haven’t rescheduled it yet. We’re still looking at both schedules and making sure things align well and we’ll get that rescheduled in the near future. Obviously, it’s not ideal but it’s something we have to deal with.”

>> LOOKING AT FRIDAY’S WIN:Still, the Jackalopes come in this week on a two-game winning streak.

In Odessa’s 2-1 victory last Friday, the Jackalopes took a 2-0 lead with goals by Thomas Wright and Matvey Ivanov in the first and second periods, respectively, before the team had to hold off El Paso late in the game after the Rhinos got one back from an Eddie Shepler goal.

“I thought on Friday we were in complete control of that game,” Deur said. “Obviously, I’d like to see the score be a little bit higher but I felt we were in control of it. We gave up one late in the third which was a mistake by us but overall, I thought we played some good hockey. We’ve won two in a row and we need to keep that going.”

El Paso outshot Odessa, 29-25 in the game.

>> CORPUS CHRISTI:The IceRays are coming off a 1-2 showing in last weekend’s three-game series against Shreveport in Corpus Christi.

The Mudbugs won the first game, 7-2, before the IceRays took the next game, winning 6-5 in a shootout before Shreveport closed out with a 3-0 win last Sunday.

While the IceRays may be sitting second to last in the division, Deur knows Corpus Christi is a team that’s better than its record.

“Corpus is really well-coached,” Deur said. “I think they split almost every weekend. They’ve seen tough guys in our division and had success. This weekend’s going to be really competitive. They have a good offensive group. Their defense is pretty good and they have a good goaltender. I think it’s going to be a real challenge for us. We’ve stacked up well against them in the past so hopefully we can continue that success.”