AMARILLO, TX – The Amarillo Bulls closed out 2011 with their 29th victory of the season, and 9th win in a row on Saturday night at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.
Five third period goals lifted the Bulls past the New Mexico Mustangs 6-2.That win combined with the Texas Tornado’s 4-1 loss to the Odessa Jackalopes, stretched the Bulls lead to 12 points for first place in the South Division.
“Twenty nine wins before January 1 is pretty impressive,” said Bulls Assistant Coach Rocky Russo. “We will take the advantage here to really step back and reflect on the first half of the year. Our guys have continued to battle night in and night out whether it’s on-ice or off-ice. They have given 110 per cent.”
For just the fifth time this season, the Amarillo Bulls headed into the third period of a hockey game trailing. John Rey began the Bulls comeback bid when he scored on an incredible rush up the ice in the first 37 seconds of the stanza. TJ Sarcona and Geoff Fortman earned assists on the goal. The Bulls were not done yet as TJ Sarcona made it 3-2 just four minutes later from Joe Kozlak and Matt Johnson. Mike Erickson stretched the Bulls lead to 4-2 when he scored 37 seconds later with help from Clint Carlisle and John Rey.
Two more goals by the Bulls in the final six minutes rounded out the scoring and completed the comeback. Greg Gibson scored from Brooks Behling at 15:10, and then Joe Kozlak finished things on the power play from Karl Beckman and Michael Davis. Gregg Gruehl made some impressive saves to keep his team in the hunt and notched his 16th win of the season.
The game started well for the Bulls and they played a solid first 20 minutes but couldn’t score. The Bulls had 22 first period shots and Nick Heimer stopped them all. New Mexico managed just eight shots and they were easily turned away by Gregg Gruehl.
The New Mexico Mustangs got the jump in the second period and took a 1-0 advantage just 23 seconds into the stanza on a two on one break up the ice. The Bulls tied the game up six minutes later when Joe Kozlak deflected a shot in on the power play from John Rey and Brandon Lubin at 6:31. New Mexico regained the lead when they converted another odd man rush.
Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams said one of the Bulls strengths this season has been their ability to get scoring from all ends of the line-up.
“One of the nice things is that we have multiple weapons at our disposal,” Williams noted. “We don’t have a single guy that dominates and wins hockey games we have a full team of great hockey players. If you look at our box scores it is somebody new every night, and that is where you are going to win this league is with depth in your line-up.”
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the New Mexico Mustangs 55-20 including 20-5 in the third period. There were 10 total power plays with the Bulls netting two goals on seven chances.
The Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center is going to be a busy place in January with lots of Bulls hockey. It continues next Friday and Saturday with games against the Corpus Christi IceRays at 7 pm. Tickets are available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk in the Amarillo Building, Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Outlets including United Supermarkets. For further information on group rates, flex packs or Corporate Marketing Partnerships please call the Bulls office at 806-242-1122 or visit www.amarillobulls.com.