After having one weekend series postponed and another end in a pair of overtime losses, the Odessa Jackalopes are preparing to return to home ice for the first time in three weeks to get things back on track.
Up next for the Jackalopes is a three-game series with the Lone Star Brahmas that begins Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at the Ector County Coliseum. This will be the first time this season that the two teams will face off against each other.
Jackalopes head coach Jason Fortier said during his weekly press conference Wednesday that he was able to take away a number of positives in this past weekend’s series against the Shreveport Mudbugs despite falling 3-2 in overtime on consecutive nights.
“I think the energy is good,” Fortier said. “It’s a long trip back from Shreveport but it’s something where we can take some pride that we worked hard.
“We had a lot of good clips to reinforce what we’re teaching. This week has been pretty high-energy and high-paced.”
The Jackalopes got off to good starts against the Mudbugs in both games by scoring first and also built a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period of Saturday’s game.
Shreveport was able to rally back and eventually won the game and Fortier said that how that game played out provided a good teaching moment for his team.
“We just had a fire in our belly and played with enthusiasm,” he said. “It’s not that we got worse as the game went on. I think we got a little complacent.
“Hats off to Shreveport because they just kept plugging away, kept working and came back and matched that work ethic against us.”
Being able to maintain those leads and keep that intensity is something that Fortier notes has been a point of emphasis this week. The Jackalopes get to stay home for the next three weeks with this weekend’s series against Lone Star, an off week with the Christmas holiday and a three-game series against Shreveport to begin 2021.
“We just want to preach composure and to stick with what you’re doing,” Fortier said. “Sometimes, teams get a lead and they start to think that they have to defend more and change that mindset. You still want to attack and there really shouldn’t be a change in the system.”
>> FINDING A GO-TO SCORER: Charlie Banquier and Joey Musa became the latest Jackalopes to score their first goals of the season in Friday’s game, becoming the 14th and 15th different players to score for Odessa this season. Fletcher Anderson and Jacob Badal are tied for the team lead with four goals each.
Fortier said that it’s encouraging that different players are stepping up. At the same time, he’s also looking for someone to break through as that go-to option. “It’s a pro and a con at the same time,” he said. “It’s great to see guys from your fourth and third line score but you want to find that consistent goal scorer coming from your top two lines.
>> GETTING A CHANCE TO PLAY: The series against Wichita Falls previously scheduled for Dec. 4 and 5 was the second time this season that the Jackalopes have had games due to COVID-19 concerns from the opposing team.
Fortier said that it’s something he tries not to think about it too much and works to focus on the task at hand and dealing with it if an issue comes up.
“Does it get frustrating? Sure. But the blessing is that we still get to come to the rink and train,” Fortier said. “We’ve treated it as something that we can’t control and we’re not going to focus on it.”
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