AMARILLO, TX – For the first time in franchise history, the Amarillo Bulls won’t be in the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup playoffs.
The Bulls surrendered five consecutive goals that snapped a 1-1 tie and fell 6-1 to the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Tuesday night at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. The game was rescheduled from February due to travel considerations with the NAHL Top Prospects in Michigan.
Amarillo needed the win to remain alive in the fight for a South Division playoff spot, trailing the Wenatchee Wild by five points for sixth. A fourth straight loss would have stopped the Bulls run in the final month of the regular season.
Despite having 40 shots on goal, the Bulls managed to push just one across the goal line. AJ Duggan delighted the crowd by scoring in the first period. Jacob Weatherly started in goal and was replaced by Anton Martinson. Each goaltender yielded three goals apiece. The Bulls finished the season with 17 wins to rank second in franchise history.
It was a great first period for the Amarillo Bulls with lots of energy and hard work. Charlie Combs had a shorthanded chance in the first two minutes of game when he walked in on a breakaway. His shot was denied by Shaw.
The Wildcats capitalized on some shots that found the back of the net to grab the early lead. There was a flurry of activity with three goals in a span of 45 seconds. After the Cats scored the game’s first goal AJ Duggan netted the equalizer on the ensuing face-off nine seconds later when he stole the puck away from the defenseman and beat goaltender Austin Shaw.
But thirty seconds later, the Wildcats take the lead for good a wrist shot from the face-off circle. The Wildcats would add a third goal that chased goaltender Jacob Weatherly who was replaced by Anton Martinsson. The Bulls had their chances on Shaw but missed one off the goal post and two others they were unable to scoop up the puck in the goal crease. Amarillo outshot Wichita Falls 16-15.
The Bulls kept pushing forward in the second period but again were denied by the strong goaltending of Shaw. Two power play attempts produced scoring opportunities and no goals. The Wildcats added to their lead with two more well placed shots. The first one as a result of a puck being dug out along the boards, while the second one, snuck through the glove of Anton Martinsson. The Wildcats outshot the Bulls 18-17.
In the third period, the Bulls were rewarded with a five minute power play but couldn’t get any offense generated. Wichita Falls rounded out the scoring with a sixth goal in the final seven minutes of regulation.
There were a total of 83 shots on goal combined with the two teams. The Wildcats had the advantage 43-40. The Amarillo Bulls strong penalty killing continued in the game preventing the Wildcats for scoring on three attempts. The Bulls went 0 for 5 on man advantage.
The Amarillo Bulls conclude their regular season this Friday and Saturday when they host the Corpus Christ IceRays at American Bank Center. Fans can tune into the action live on CBS Sports Radio 1440, online at www.amarillobulls.com and on PPV courtesy of Fast Hockey beginning with the Wayland Baptist University Warm Up Show at 6:40 pm on Friday and 7:40 pm on Saturday. Amarillo Bulls Hockey Presented By Westgate Mall follows at 7 pm and 8 pm, respectively.