CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – Martin Hojbjerg picked up a hat trick, including the game winner in the third period as the Corpus Christi IceRays completed a comeback victory over the Odessa Jackalopes with a 5-3 win in front of 1,912 at the American Bank Center on Tuesday night.
Corpus Christi wanted to build off the win over Wichita Falls and they did so at the 12:57 mark of the opening period. Eric Purcell went down the left wing wall trying a wrap-around attempt on Odessa goaltender Yoshihiro Kuroiwa. The puck went through Kuroiwa and right to an awaiting Lucas Bennett who snapped home his third goal of the season for a 1-0 lead. The other assist was credited to Jesse Shelton, his first point with the IceRays.
A rebound goal and Odessa tied the game at one goal apiece. Connor Chambers received a pass from Mathieu Briand firing it into the pads of Ben Myers. After the original save, the rebound was picked up by Robb Stautz who wristed the puck by Myers for his fourth goal on the season at the 17:21 mark of the second period.
The IceRays answered right back to retake the lead just 26 seconds later as Griffin Leach hit Martin Hojbjerg with a centering pass from the wall. Hojbjerg wired a shot by Kuroiwa from the top of the slot, his fifth of the year with Maurin Bouvet adding the second assist and a 2-1 lead with only 2:13 left in the period.
Odessa got right back into the game and responded with only 2.2 seconds left in the second period. Off another rebound shot that was taken by Alex Alger, Joey Palumbo was waiting right on the doorstep to record his third of the season, assisted by Alex Alger and former IceRays defender Chris Taff. After two periods of play the IceRays led Odessa in shots 25-24.
In the third period the ‘Jacks went on the power-play after a Luke McDiarmid penalty at 1:04 of the third period. Leo Lumm converted for Odessa just 52 seconds later assisted by Trace Jablin and Lukas Laub to take a 3-2 lead just 1:57 into the final period of regulation. The goal was Lumm’s second on the year and first with the Jackalopes.
It was all Martin Hojbjerg after that goal as the comeback started. A shot by Hojbjerg was stopped by Kuroiwa however a crowd gathered and jammed away at the loose puck at the top of the crease. Hojbjerg got the final touch on it for his second goal of the game and sixth of the year, assisted by Maurin Bouvet and Griffin Leach to tie the game 3-3 at 6:43 of the third period.
The go ahead goal started when two Odessa forwards tried breaking out of the zone right as Kyle Froese knocked down the puck at the blueline. The created a mini five-on-three advantage and Froese ripped a shot on net that Kuroiwa stopped but rebounded the puck right to Hojbjerg who picked up the hat trick by burying his third of the game giving the ‘Rays a 4-3 lead.
After Odessa called a timeout and pulling the goaltender, Tony Roisum scooped up the puck and waited patiently to send it into the empty net sealing a 5-3 win for Corpus Christi.
Ben Myers denied 34 of 37 shots in the comeback victory.
The IceRays return home tomorrow night to finish the series with the Odessa Jackalopes. Puck drops at 7:05PM, coverage begins at 6:50PM with the IceRays Pregame Show on 91.1FM KSGR, ksgr.org, ustream.com, and fasthockey.com.
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