WICHITA FALLS, TX – A strong finish….
That’s what the Amarillo Bulls were looking for heading into the Christmas break and it’s exactly what they got after Monday’s nights 5-2 win against the Wichita Falls Wildcats at Kay Yeager Coliseum.
The Bulls won their 26th game of the season, the most by an Amarillo hockey team pro or junior ever and it increased their first place lead in the South Division to 10 points. The victory was also the Bulls sixth in a row.
After a tough opening 20 minutes, the Bulls took the game over and out-worked the Wildcats over the last 40 minutes scoring three times.
“We got right down to work at the start of the second period,” said Bulls Assistant Coach Rocky Russo. “You see Greg Gibson’s running around finishing his checks, and Matt Johnson is doing the same. That first shift of the second period set the tone for the last 40 minutes in the game.”
The opening 20 minutes featured four goals with each team scoring twice. Matt Johnson gave the Bulls an early 1-0 lead when he scored at the 2:42 mark from Luke Jenkins. Seven minutes later the Wildcats pulled even with a shot off the face off. Late in the stanza, at the 18:30 mark, Ryan Taylor scored his second from Joe Kozlak and Michael Davis. However, 38 seconds later, Wichita Falls pulled even on a tip play in front of the net.
Wichita Falls outshot the Amarillo Bulls 15-13 in the first period.
The Bulls went to work in the second period and out-hustled the Wildcats to score twice. First Michael Erickson pushed the puck across the goal line following a huge scrum in front of the Wildcats net. Brooks Behling and Clint Carlisle earned assists on the goal. Karl Beckman made it 4-2 with a power play goal in the final 1:13 of the stanza from Greg Gibson.
In the third period Michael Davis preserved the win by scoring on a breakaway in final five minutes.
Goaltender Mike Taffe stopped 34 of 36 shots he faced to post the win in goal. One of the keys in the game was the Bulls ability to get to goaltender Matt Leon early and not let him get into a groove.
“We got to get him pushing from side to side, lateral movements, especially young goaltenders who just are not strong enough right now,” Williams noted prior to game time. “He’s got a lot of confidence right now and a big part of why they are winning games.”
The Wichita Falls Wildcats outshot the Amarillo Bulls 36-31. There were just six total power plays, with the Bulls going 0 for 2 and the Wildcats were 0-4.
The Amarillo Bulls return to action next Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 7 pm when they host the Wichita Falls Wildcats at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. That game will start a big stretch of home games that includes a stretch of seven in a row. Tickets are available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk, Suite 101 in the Amarillo Building, Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Outlets including United Supermarkets. For further information on group rates or Seven-game Flex Packs, please call the Bulls office at 806-242-1122.