NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE: Jackalopes' road stretch continues with Shreveport and Lone Star

Jan. 9—While Ector County Coliseum is currently hosting the annual SandHills Stock Show and Rodeo, the Odessa Jackalopes are embarking on one of their longest road trips of the season.

That's no problem for the team as they are used to their January road trips while the rodeo is in town each year.

The real challenge is finding a way to win close games.

With the second half of the season now underway, the Jackalopes will face the Shreveport MudBugs in this week's road series before finishing off in Fort Worth against the Lone Star Brahmas.

Both teams will play at 7:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Georges Pond Hirsch Coliseum.

The Jackalopes will then face Lone Star at 1 p.m. Sunday in North Richland Hills.

>> ENDING 2023:The Jackalopes are coming off a bye week. Their last weekend series saw them drop three consecutive games to finish the month of December.

The team was dealt one-goal losses by Corpus Christi, followed by a 3-1 defeat to Lone Star on Dec. 31.

'We basically loss three one-goal games," Odessa head coach Scott Deur said. "I know Lone Star was a 3-1 loss, but it was an empty-net goal and they're one of the top teams in the division, even in the league."

>> TAKING GOOD FROM THE BAD: Despite the losses, Deur saw plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

"We showed that we can play them and I like our game on that Sunday even though we were playing 3-in-3 and that was their only game of the weekend, I'm really excited about where this team is and I'm excited about where we're going. But at the end of the day, we have to start finding ways to score more goals."

Four of the last nine games have been one-goal losses for the Jackalopes.

The team currently sits in seventh in the North American Hockey League South Division standings at 13-15-2 with 30 points.

>> YOU AGAIN? Shreveport enters the weekend in third place at 23-8-0 with 48 points, putting them in a tie with El Paso.

The MudBugs have won seven of their last eight.

Their last game saw their winning streak come to an end as Shreveport fell to Corpus Christi 5-2 on Jan. 6.

"They're playing some really good hockey and they're well coached," Deur said of Shreveport. "We've matched up well with them in the past, so we're going to have to make sure that our shifts are short and make sure we get pucks to the net and bodies to the net. It should be a fun weekend."

The Jackalopes' last three games against Shreveport resulted in one-goal losses.

Lone Star remains in first at 25-7-1 with 54 points.

>> ON THE ROAD AGAIN: It's not the first time the team has been on the road for a long period as the Jackalopes spent the first month-and-a-half of the season playing away games.

"This group is unlike any other group," Deur said. "They're a close group and the players like hanging out with each other. Right now, it's fun. It's still hotel living. It's not ideal, but it's something that we have to deal with and make the best of it."

Odessa will remain on the road next week with a series against the defending Robertson Cup winner the Oklahoma Warriors.

The Jackalopes will finally return home when they face the Warriors Jan. 26-27 at Ector County Coliseum.

The Warriors (15-13-3) are sixth in the division standings, just five points ahead of the Jackalopes with 35.

As the team continues to battle for a top four spot in the division, Deur and his players are taking it one game at a time.

"Right now, every game is the most important game of the week," Deur said. "We can't take any game for granted. We have to do what we can do. We're not looking at the standings. We're looking at each individual game and how we can get better from each individual game."