AMARILLO, TX – One Of the areas the Amarillo Bulls will have to better at if they want to be part of the South Division playoffs in April is consistency. That type of play is something the Bulls have struggled with at times this season being dialed into each game on a night-in and night-out basis.
That was missing on Saturday night at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center as the Odessa Jackalopes scored a late second period goal and held off the Bulls 3-2. The game concluded five straight between the two teams. Amarillo failed in its attempt to move ahead of the Corpus Christi IceRays for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division. The Bulls have one more chance tomorrow (Sunday) night when they entertain the Shreveport Mudbugs at 7 pm.
If there was one player who brought his ‘A’ game to the Bull Pen in Saturday night it was Cleveland native Steven Ipri. The young forward scored both goals and missed on a penalty shot late in the third period. Chase Thudium tallied the game winner for Odessa, while Jake Levin and Noah Poindexter picked up the others.
The visitors jumped on the Bulls in the first four minutes of the game and found the back of the net on a goal by Noah Poindexter from Tyler Pietrowski and Ryan MacKellar. Six minutes later, it was all Bulls as Steve Ipri went to work with a pair of goals separated by just 47 seconds on the goal. The first one saw Ipri slice his way up the middle of the Jackalopes defense and put a shot by goaltender Jonny Hogue. Bray Crowder and Brendan Michaelian had the helpers. The second one was a breakaway goal set up by linemate Luke Edgerton and defenseman Quinn Warmuth.
Odessa pulled even again as Jake Levin capitalized on a turnover and put the puck past the stick side of Nikita Babintsev. The teams combined for 17 first period shots with the Bulls being able to get 10 of them.
It was a tightly played 2nd period between the two teams with the Bulls power play unable to gain any presence inside the Odessa zone. Matt Nicholson’s charges also had to contend with pressure from the visitors defensively that forced the Bulls to turn over the puck. The Jackalopes grabbed a 3-2 lead late in the stanza when Chase Thudium scored on a one-time that squeaked through the pads of goaltender Babintsev. Odessa outshot Amarillo 13-12 in the second period.
The Bulls had a three minute extended power play early in the third period with Eric Cooley, George Mika and several other Bulls players denied not only by the Jackalopes defense but goaltender Jonny Hogue. In the final five minutes forward Steven Ipri was pulled down on a major scoring chance and the referee rewarded him with a penalty shot. Ipri raced in on his opportunity but his shot just barely missed on the stick side.
The Amarillo Bulls and the Odessa Jackalopes each had 30 shots on goal in the contest. There were just four power plays with the Bulls going 0 for 3 and the Jacks were 0 for 1.
The three game homestand concludes for the Bulls on Sunday night with a game versus the Shreveport Mudbugs at 7 pm. It’s Buy One Get One Free on all regularly priced tickets. The Bulls Office will be open on Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm for ticketing needs. Fans can also call 242-1122 or drop the Civic Center Box Office and head online at www.panhandletickets.com.