NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE: Jackalopes’ winning streak snapped in loss to Wranglers

The Odessa Jackalopes saw their four-game winning streak come to an end with a 2-1 loss to the Amarillo Wranglers in North American Hockey League action Thursday at Ector County Coliseum.

Playing in the first of a three-game home series, the Jackalopes took an early 1-0 lead before Amarillo scored two unanswered goals to get the win.

Odessa fell to 12-10-2 and remain in seventh place in the NAHL South Division standings with 28 points while the Wranglers improved to 15-9-5 and are in fourth place with 35 points.

Goals from Amarillo’s Alexander Papaspyropoulos and Jack Ivey canceled out an early Jackalopes’ lead from James Richman.

“I thought we had a good first period,” Jackalopes head coach Scott Deur said. “Second and third were a little more clutching and grabbing but we had our chances and we have to make the best of them the next time.”

It was Odessa’s first loss since its 4-3 defeat to Shreveport back on Nov. 25 at Ector County Coliseum.

Odessa outshot Amarillo, 24-23.

The Jackalopes got off to the perfect start, needing less than two minutes to find the back of the net.

Richman scored off an assist from Adam Armijo and Cameron Dunn, only 1:12 into the game to give the Jackalopes a 1-0 lead.

The Jackalopes almost doubled their lead with 12:29 left in the period but an incredible save by Amarillo’s goalie Connor McDonough kept the visitors in the game.

The Wranglers then had a couple of opportunities to tie the game up but a determined effort by Odessa goalie Quentin Sigurdson kept the puck out of his net and the Jackalopes in front with plenty of action in the period left.

The Jackalopes were given their first power play of the game with 47 seconds left in the period when Amarillo’s Trace Day was sent to the penalty box for tripping.

The hosts ended the first period with a 1-0 lead.

Odessa was unable to capitalize on the power play as the Jackalopes’ lead only stayed at a single goal early in the second period.

Another power play came for the Jackalopes when Amarillo’s Bryce Cooper was penalized for boarding with 16 minutes left in the period.

However, Odessa couldn’t make much of the opportunity and the Wranglers were able to kill the penalty.

“Our power play has been up and down all season,” Deur said. “But our first unit had a couple of chances to score. We just didn’t. We just have to get back to it.”

Later in the period, it was the Jackalopes’ John Wojciechoski who was sent to the penalty box for interference.

It would come back to bite Odessa as the Wranglers tied things up on the power play with a goal by Papaspyropoulous with 10:30 left in the period.

The Wranglers were gifted with another power play as Odessa’s Kowin Belsterling was penalized for holding with 8:25 left on the clock.

The visitors couldn’t capitalize on the power play but the Wranglers still enjoyed a number of scoring opportunities late in the period.

Neither team could get in front before the end of the period as the game remained tied at the end of the second.

The Wranglers were able to go in front, four minutes into the third period when Jack Ivey scored with 16:10 remaining in regulation to put the visitors in front.

Odessa couldn’t find the equalizing goal.

With time ticking away, things got chippy between the two sides as a fight broke out on the ice with 2:16 remaining.

The scuffle resulted in 4-on-4 hockey late in the game as Amarillo’s Tommy Chunchukov and Odessa’s Wojciechoski were both sent to the penalty box.

Amarillo held on for the victory.

>> FOURTH MEETING: Thursday’s game was the fourth time the Jackalopes have faced the Wranglers this season.

Both teams are now even at 2-2 for the year.

The previous meeting resulted in a 6-3 Odessa victory back on Nov. 26 at Ector County Coliseum.

The other two matchups came in a split series on Oct. 13 and 14 at the Amarillo Civic Center.

The two teams will continue their series with a 7:15 puck drop Friday at Ector County Coliseum before wrapping things up on Saturday.

>> ALMOST TIME FOR A BREAK:After this week’s home series, the Jackalopes will go on a two-week break before regrouping late in the month.

Odessa will return to the ice for the start of a long road trip on Dec. 29 against Corpus Christi.

The Jackalopes won’t be back at home until Jan. 26 against the Oklahoma Warriors.