CORPUS CHRISTI,TX – The Amarillo Bulls have crept to within six points of the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division after edging the Corpus Christi IceRays 2-1 on Saturday night at American Bank Center.
The Bulls gained a value two points and a split in their weekend series with the IceRays after a 2-1 loss the previous night. Tonight’s score was the fifth 2-1 game out of sixth meetings between the two teams this season. George Mika and Michael Forman netted markers for Amarillo, while Anton Martinsson stopped 31 of 32 shots he faced.
Just like Friday’s contest the Bulls came out flying and had the IceRays on their heels. George Mika gave the Bulls a 1-0 lead when he put a puck past goaltender Graham Hunt. Joey Molinaro and Charlie Singerhouse got assists on the play. Molinaro set up the play by getting the puck away from the IceRays player, and finding Mika in front of the net.
Five minutes later, the Bulls extended their lead when Michael Forman converted a feed from Johan Lundgren.
The Bulls kept pushing after that and were rewarded with several odd man rushes. Johan Lundgren, Jacob Nitsche and Brady Crabtree all had chances alone in front of the net, but were not able to beat goaltender Hunt. Amarillo outshot the IceRays 13-7 in the first period.
In the second period, the Bulls got some pushback from the IceRays, but managed to maintain their two goal cushion. Anton Martinsson was kept busy with 15 shots, including several from close range. Amarillo continued to mount an offensive attack George Mika was bidding for his second of the game, but his shot was stopped by the goaltender. There was a fight in the period between Brady Crabtree and Jimmy O’Brien that was deemed pretty even. One of the issues for the Bulls during the game on Friday was their penalty killing, but that wasn’t the case in the second game. A late power play by the IceRays was thwarted by the strong work by the defense.
In the third period, the IceRays pulled to within one by scoring their second shorthanded goal of the season. The puck rolled off the end of a Bulls’ defenseman stick and that allowed Brad Lelievre to wire a shot from just inside the Blueline that eluded goaltender Martinsson. Riley DeFazio was also involved in a fight in the third period with Colton Meekhof. DeFazio got the better of the exchange.
Down the stretch the Bulls tightened up defensively and shutdown the IceRays in their bid to tie the game. Corpus Christi pulled its goaltender in the final minute but couldn’t get a key face-off win and that allowed Jake Houston and the Bulls to get the puck out.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Corpus Christi IceRays 32-27. There were eight total power plays between the two teams with neither being able to score.
These two teams will face one another again next Friday and Saturday at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. The puck drop for both games are set for 7 pm. Santa Claus will make an appearance on Friday for fans to get a picture with. The Toys for Tots Teddy Bear Toss presented by Tyson is set for Saturday. Fans are encouraged to bring a new or gently used Teddy Bear or stuffed animal to the game and when the Bulls score their first goal, throw the toys onto the ice in support of the great cause. Tickets are available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk or by calling 242-1122. Fans can also purchase tickets at the Civic Center Box Office or at all United Supermarket locations.