NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE: Jackalopes hammered by IceRays
Dec 22, 2012 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Entering Friday night's North American Hockey League game against Corpus Christi, the Odessa Jackalopes were coming off their first win in more than a month.
The momentum was short-lived however, as the visiting IceRays slid into Ector County Coliseum and skated away with an 8-1 victory, handing Odessa its 12th loss in its last 13 games.
"It was absolutely a step back," Odessa coach Paul Gillis said. "We should compete against that team and we should be able to beat that team on the other side and we came out and didn't make it happen. Didn't work hard enough, didn't battle hard enough. Just not good enough."
Corpus Christi (12-12-5) got a pair of goals each from Rudy Sulmonte and Michael Economos and goalkeeper Hayden Stewart stopped 32 of 33 shots on goal.
Lawrence Cornellier scored the lone goal for Odessa (5-22-2) midway through the second period, to slice the IceRays advantage to 3-1.
But Corpus Christi erupted for four goals in the final period, including Sulmonte's second at 18:18 and another by Brandon Smith 18 seconds later to give the Jackalopes their worst defeat since a 9-1 loss to Texas on Nov. 12.
The IceRays' Brandon Berkley scored early in the opening period, but Odessa had a chance to tie the contest late in the period on a shot from Tyler Minx that just missed.
Moments later a Jackalopes penalty gave Corpus Christi a power play, and they took full advantage when Sulmonte netted the puck with less than five seconds left in the period to give his team a 2-0 lead.
"When they scored at the end of the first period it was on a power play but really we had OK chances," Gillis said. "We didn't put any of our chances in the first period and they put in some that weren't great chances.
"Same thing for the second really, we had opportunities that we didn't put in the net and they got a couple and they put them in the net."
Less than four minutes into the second period, Beau Walker struck again for the IceRays before Cornellier could answer for the Jacks.
Corpus Christi then scored five unanswered goals, one more in the second, and a barrage of four in the third to run away with the victory.
"The third period we lost our marbles a little bit," Gillis said. "We have to defend better and take advantage when we get a chance."
Nick Deery took the loss in the net, despite saving 32 of 36 shots on goal. Phil Heinle allowed four goals on eight shots through one period in the net.
The teams will face off again at 7:05 tonight, before the Jackalopes head out on an eight-game road trip.
Gillis said getting back in the win column is crucial for his club before hitting the road.
"It's super important," Gillis said. "We talked about how important this game was. We have to come out and have urgency and it's like every game should really be like a playoff game. We have to come out and play harder and take advantage of our opportunities and we have to defend better."
--Follow Mike Whitson on Twitter at @OAWhitson
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