ODESSA, TX – The Amarillo Bulls scored four consecutive goals to erase a 2-1 second period deficit and went on to a 5-2 victory over the Odessa Jackalopes on Saturday night at Ector County Coliseum.
It was the Bulls 16th road win of the season and 25th overall. Amarillo remained eight points up on the Texas Tornado for first place in the South Division. Karl Beckman had a solid game offensively and defensively for the Bulls with a goal and three assists, while two other players each had two points.
The Bulls trailed 2-1 early in the second period when they struck for two late goals four minutes apart, and then another two early in the third.
“The first two periods were pretty sloppy both ways as the puck was bouncing everywhere,” said Bulls Volunteer Assistant Coach Austin Sutter who was filling in for Assistant Coach Rocky Russo. “But we stuck to the game plan and the guys kept battling, finishing checks, putting pucks on net and then going to the net.”
After a tentative opening 10 minutes between the two teams, the Bulls struck late in the stanza on the power play at the 19:38 mark. John Rey’s point shot deflected off an Odessa player right to Karl Beckman, who one-timed it into the net. Michael Erickson also earned an assist on the goal. Amarillo outshot Odessa 9-4 in the first period.
Each teams scored twice in the middle stanza, and it was Odessa jumping out to a 2-1 advantage. The Jacks scored two goals in a 96 second span including one on the power play. The Bulls remained strong and battled back to tie the game when Joe Kozlak deflected home a shot from Karl Beckman at 14:29. Just over four minutes later, the Bulls retook the lead this time via the power play. Luke Jenkins drilled a screen shot past the Odessa goaltender from Karl Beckman and Jude Warner.
Jude Warner extended the Bulls’ lead to 4-2 in the third period when he collected a Odessa turnover and deposited in the top shelf. Less than three minutes later, the Bulls rounded out the scoring when Joe Kozlak scored his second of the game shorthanded from TJ Sarcona and Karl Beckman.
Greg Gruehl posted his 14th win of the season in goal. Amarillo outshot Odessa 42-19 including 16-3 in the final period. The Bulls were 2 for 9 on the power play, while Odessa was 1 for 5.
Odessa goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has faced over 200 shots against Amarillo this season. Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams said that Odessa’s Connor Hellebuyck has been their best player this season.
“He’s a heck of a goaltender. We talked about getting lots of shots, and we had a lot of Grade ‘A’ shots on him on Friday,” Williams commented. “He makes a lot of saves and we tell our guys they have to be ready for those rebounds, and when they are in tight they have to go upstairs on him. He’s a lot of their team right there and that is what you need to win games is great goaltending. I am going to flip it and we’re lucky we have two great goaltenders right now that we have confidence in (Gregg Gruehl and Mike Taffe).”
There is one game left for the Amarillo Bulls prior to the Christmas Break and it will take place on Monday night when they visit the Wichita Falls Wildcats at 7 pm at Kay Yeager Coliseum. Fans can tune into the game live on ESPN1440 and www.amarillobulls.com beginning with The Bulls Warm Up Show Presented By Wayland Baptist University. Denis J. Puska has the puck drop to follow. The game is also available on Pay Per View courtesy of Fast Hockey and a high speed internet connection is required in order to view the game.