The Arizona Sundogs still are very much in the race for the Central Hockey League playoffs, after two big wins this past week.
The Sundogs started a 9-game homestand Wednesday by defeating the Odessa Jackalopes, 5-3.
The Tim's Toyota Center ice frequently looked a little lonely as numerous members of both the Arizona Sundogs and the Odessa Jackalopes spent quality time in the penalty box. But two goals from Luke Erickson, as well as one apiece from Mark Kolanos, Jason Williams and Patrick Schafer gave the Sundogs cause to crowd onto the ice at game's end to celebrate as the "Star Wars" theme song blared over the loudspeakers.
The Sundogs were up 2-0 in the second period when Odessa scored its first goal skating 4-on-3 after a small brawl thinned the ice.
Arizona had built its lead to 4-1 when Odessa began to close quickly with a goal midway through the final period and a free shot three minutes later when the referee ruled Billy Bezeau covered a loose puck in the goal crease.
With the Sundogs ahead 4-3 and 9 seconds to play, rookie Schafer closed scoring with an empty net goal on the center ice face-off.
Friday, Arizona again topped Odessa, but by a narrower margin, 3-2. Joey Sides initiated scoring less than a minute into the game, with help from Kyle Hood and Bezeau.
Odessa held a 2-1 lead when Erickson tied it up late in the third period on a power play. Erickson moved into a tie for the CHL goal scoring lead when he hit the OT goal.
The Jackalopes got their revenge Saturday, overcoming a 5-2 second period deficit to garner a 6-5 sudden death overtime win, and snapping the Sundogs' 4-game home win streak.
Odessa got the games' first goal but Sides extended his scoring streak to eight games when he equalized at 1-all.
The Jackalopes regained the lead for a minute, before the Sundogs tallied four straight on goals from Erickson, Jason Visser, Sides again and Jamie VanderVeeken to make it 5-2.
With a new keeper in goal, Odessa battled back and subsequently scored the only goal in the shootout.
Levente Szuper got both wins in goal, while Doug Groenestege suffered the loss.
Cam Keith's two assists Wednesday, two Friday and one Saturday pushed his point streak to 14 games, the best in the CHL.
The Sundogs play host to the Colorado Eagles Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.