The sport of hockey has a rich and storied history, filled with unforgettable moments that have shaped the game into what it is today. From the heated rivalries between teams to the jaw-dropping skills of individual players, hockey has captivated fans all over the world for decades. One team that has left their mark on the sport is the Odessa Jackalopes, a minor league hockey team based in Odessa, Texas.
Founded in 1997, the Jackalopes have been an integral part of the North American hockey scene, playing in various leagues before finally settling in the North American Hockey League (HL) in 2011. As a fairly recent addition to the league, the Jackalopes have already made a name for themselves with their impressive record, including some truly memorable moments. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the most historic upsets and wins in Odessa Jackalopes history.
The Miracle at the Ector County Coliseum: Odessa Jackalopes vs. Amarillo Bullfrogs (October 30, 2010)
The 2009-2010 season was a tough one for the Jackalopes, with a record of 25 wins, 24 losses, and 7 shootout losses. But they were determined to turn things around in the following season. The first game of the 2010-2011 season was against their longtime rivals, the Amarillo Bullfrogs. With a home advantage, the Jackalopes were ready for a fight, but little did they know that it would turn into an epic battle.
The Bullfrogs were leading the game 4-0 in the third period, and it seemed like the Jackalopes’ fate was sealed. But then, the team’s captain, Nick Oddo, scored a goal, igniting the fans and his teammates. The Jackalopes continued to score goal after goal, tying the game 4-4 with just over a minute left. In the final moments of the game, Oddo scored the winning goal, completing the epic comeback and securing their first win of the season.
This game became known as the Miracle at the Ector County Coliseum, and it set the tone for the rest of the season. It showed the team’s resilience, determination, and never-give-up attitude, setting the stage for even more historic moments in the seasons to come.
The HL Robertson Cup Championship: Odessa Jackalopes vs. St. Louis Bandits (May 13, 2011)
The 2010-2011 season was a turning point for the Jackalopes, as they qualified for the playoffs for the first time since joining the HL. In the playoff semifinals, they faced off against the St. Louis Bandits, the defending champions and the first team to ever sweep the playoffs in HL history. The odds were against the Jackalopes, but they were determined to make it to the finals.
In a thrilling seven-game series, the Jackalopes and the Bandits gave it their all, with both teams winning three games each. The seventh and final game was a nail-biter, with the score tied at 1-1 in the third period. With just over a minute left, Kyle Sucher of the Jackalopes scored the winning goal, securing their spot in the HL Robertson Cup Championship for the first time in their history.
The Jackalopes went on to face the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in the finals, but lost in the third and deciding game. However, just making it to the championship was a huge accomplishment for the team, and it solidified their place as a major force in the HL.
The CarShield National Hockey League Series: Odessa Jackalopes vs. Topeka RoadRunners (January 4-5, 2019)
As the Jackalopes entered their 10th season in the HL, they continued to make history with their achievements. In January 2019, they took part in the CarShield National Hockey League Series, an annual showcase event that brings together the top teams from the league to compete in front of scouts from the National Hockey League (NHL) and other professional leagues.
In a highly anticipated match, the Jackalopes faced off against the Topeka RoadRunners, the team with the best record in the league at the time. After losing the first game of the series, the Jackalopes came back in dramatic fashion to win the second game 4-3. This upset was a major moment for the Jackalopes, showcasing their talent and potential to the NHL scouts in attendance.
From their first season in the HL to their recent achievements, the Odessa Jackalopes have left their mark on the minor league hockey scene. Their comeback wins, playoff success, and participation in national events have solidified their place in the history of the sport. As they continue to make more memories and achieve greater heights, one thing is for sure: the Odessa Jackalopes will always be an integral part of the North American hockey landscape.