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NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE: Jackalopes with a sigh of relief after victory - Odessa American: Sports

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NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE: Jackalopes with a sigh of relief after victory

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Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2021 6:50 pm

After struggling through the month of January and into February with an 11-game losing streak, the Odessa Jackalopes found a way to stop the bleeding and get their first win in the new year during last week’s three-game home stretch.

After losing to Shreveport 4-2, the Jackalopes ended their skid with a 3-1 victory over New Mexico Friday at Ector County Coliseum.

The victory brought a sigh of relief for head coach Jason Fortier and his players who had been searching for their first win since the team’s 6-3 victory over Shreveport on Dec. 31.

A late goal by Odessa’s Dayne Hoyord into an empty net gave the Jackalopes the two-goal lead and ensured them the victory in Friday’s contest.

“After the game even on the bench with the empty net goal and it was pretty decided that we won, there were still a few seconds left on the clock, it was great to see the elation on everyone’s faces and to see them hugging each other,” Fortier said. “You can tell that they felt the pressure and that it was something that they wanted to get the monkey off their backs. It’s great to win and to see how happy they were.”

While the Jackalopes ended the weekend with a 4-3 loss to New Mexico in a shootout, on Saturday, Fortier saw plenty of positives from his players.

“Saturday, we played better than we played on Friday actually,” Fortier said. “It was just a few poor mistakes that resulted in goals and their goalie missed a couple of clutch saves and we missed an opportunities that we should’ve scored on.

“We’re trying to look for the positives and see how we can build on that.”

After the weekend’s series, the Jackalopes sit at 8-16-2-2 for the season with 20 points and in fifth place in the North American Hockey League South Division Standings.

Wichita Falls (12-8-1-3) is eight points ahead of Odessa in the standings but has played four games fewer than the Jackalopes.

New Mexico (7-18-1-1) is sixth in the standings with 16 points.

>> TRADES: The trade deadline came and went Sunday and the Jackalopes completed a couple of trades at the deadlines as they restructured their roster for the remainder of the season.

Odessa acquired defenseman Conner Couet from the St. Cloud Norsemen in exchange for draft picks.

Couet made his Jackalopes debut in Thursday’s game against Shreveport.

Odessa also added defenseman Stephen Perez from the Maine Nordiques in exchange for picks and Perez also played in the Jackalopes’ last three games.

The Jackalopes also added two new players via trade with the New Jersey Titans, defenseman Nate Boak and forward Joe Schubert, in exchange for draft picks.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces in the last two or three weeks,” Fortier said. “We’re trying to get them up to speed and we have such a great group of kids. All the players have been very welcoming.

“We’ve been leading them down a path of expectations of what we expect from them and what we want to see as far as effort goes each day with practice.”

The Jackalopes traded some of their older players at the deadline as well.

Nick Siffringer was dealt to the Amarillo Bulls in exchange for picks.

Odessa also traded Adam Lolcon to Shreveport and Hunter Carrick to Maine, both in exchange for draft picks.

>> ANOTHER ROAD STRETCH: After consecutive weekends in front of their home crowd at Ector County Coliseum, the Jackalopes are back on the road for another month-long stretch beginning with this upcoming series against New Mexico.

After that, Odessa will travel to Shreveport in a two-game series against the Mudbugs next week.

The Jackalopes will then face Lone Star in a two-game series at North Richland Hills on March 5 and 6.

Odessa’s next home game is scheduled to be against Lone Star on March 11 at the start of a three-game series against the Brahmas.

“You’re on the road together and you have to make sure that you’re feeding the boys properly,” Fortier said. “That’s the biggest thing. I think on the drive, they generally sleep more than they do at home.

“In years past, I know that when I played minor league hockey, sometimes you’d have four guys in a room and they’d hardly sleep because they’d be wrestling or playing video games but these guys are young professionals and they’re well versed in being on the road together.”

The Jackalopes were on the road for three-consecutive weeks in January due in part to the SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo taking place at the Ector County Coliseum.

>> Follow Michael Bauer on Twitter at @OAmichaelba

Odessa, TX

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