"Slap Shot" meets "A Season on the Brink" in this twisted tale of minor league hockey in the place with more pro teams than any place in North America: TEXAS!

Laredo Extends Series
by Jason Cohen, ITC Columnist

How bad did Laredo need a win in Game 4 of its first-round series with Odessa?

Bad enough that nine-year vet Lance Leslie took his 2.115 playoff GAA (and .923 save percentage) to the bench in favor of rookie Marc-Andre LeClerc.

Bad enough that star forward Eric Schneider drove 160 miles down I-35 after playing in Friday's San Antonio Rampage game (and may be back there by the time you read this, as the Rampage play again at 1p.m. on Sunday).

Bad enough that Jeff Petruic took a celebratory half-lap after his insurance tally... an empty-netter!

But who could blame him? Facing an early end to its storybook expansion season, the Bucks were thrilled to take out the Odessa Jackalopes 4-2, knotting the best-of-five series 2-2. Game Five is in Odessa Tuesday.

Laredo jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by David Myson and Michel Periard, then refused to crumble when Odessa's Scott Green scored twice at 2:54 and 6:09 of the third period. Andy Lundbohm got the winner just 80 seconds later, coming down the right side to bang home a puck that had caromed off Dave Gilmore after Serge Dube's point shot.

"Finally, I got one on [Jacks goalie Mike] Gorman in the playoffs, I've had a few chances," Lundbohm said. "I just hammered that one as hard as I could. I found a seam, got in behind a guy and it was just so fortunate the puck went on my stick."

Myson opened up the scoring on a similar play—Rob Stanfield let loose a drive inside the blue line and the Bucks' third-liner pounced on it at the right circle, putting it by Gorman short-side at 6:20 of the first.

"It's playoff time, perfect passes and perfect plays come once in a while," Bucks coach Terry Ruskowski says. "You've got to go down and get those goals any way you can. You've got to shoot the puck on net."

Each team had a power-play goal, with Odessa going 1-for-4 and Laredo 1-for-6. Early in the second period, the Jacks killed off 120 seconds of a five-on-three. But when Greg Gatto went away for hooking Schneider on an almost-breakaway with each team playing four-a-side, Michel Periard took advantage of the extra ice, dashing uncovered through the slot to pick up a loose puck that Schneider and Chris Grenville had both tried to get past Gorman. Moving left to right and forehand to backhand, Periard popped it over the fallen goaltender to make it 2-0.

Green gave the Jacks hope with a strong individual effort, getting a jump in the neutral zone and twisting past his d-man before cutting back abruptly onto LeClerc's doorstep, where the goalie never had a chance. Then Morten Ask went away for knocking the net off its moorings -- amidst a redirected Odessa pass out of the corner that might have been a goal.

Either way, the Jacks got what they wanted, as Green struck again. This time Scott Hillman came down from between the points and dished the puck backdoor for a pretty bang-bang play. The momentum changed, but not for long.

"We were still pretty confident that we were gonna win," Schneider said. "We were at home in our own building and like they say, the fans are the seventh player out there. That was definitely the case tonight. It was just great to see -- when Andy scored the goal there, the bench erupted."

"Back against the wall, last breath of air that we had, no tomorrow, all the cliches you could put together, this was it," Ruskowski said. "We came out and we played a pretty strong game. I thought we moved the puck as well as we've moved it in the series, and that's what we have to do, we have to control the play, get the puck, make the passes that we want to make, not when they force us into making passes."

"When we tied it up, the pressure was on them, I thought maybe they'd be a little tighter," Green said. "I got to give them credit, they've got a great hockey team and they came back and got the go-ahead goal. We're back at home Tuesday, so we can't ask for more than that. We just gotta come out and get a victory."

"It's back down to one game," Lundbohm said. "If we put our hearts into it like we did tonight I think we can win it."

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