ODESSA, TX – Mike Taffe stopped 23 of 25 to help the Amarillo Bulls hang on for a 3-2 win over the Odessa Jackalopes on Friday night at Ector County Coliseum in Odessa, TX.
The Bulls notched their 31st win of the season but it was their first regulation victory in three games after suffering three consecutive shootout losses. That win over Odessa kept the Bulls 11 points ahead of the Texas Tornado for first place in the South Division.
Forward Clint Carlisle gave the Bulls a 3-0 lead on a breakaway just about a minute into the third period. But Odessa rallied late with two goals and capitalized on bad Bulls penalties. The Jackalopes had the goaltender pulled in the final minute but failed to score the equalizer.
Amarillo Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams said the game shouldn’t have been as close as it was.
“I thought Mike Taffe was the only one that showed up and played hard,” said Williams. “We left him hanging out to dry right from the first shift on. We will take the win on the road but I thought our discipline down the stretch was awful. I don’t mind hard-nose hockey but this wasn’t smart hockey.”
It was a sluggish start to the opening period for both teams. But the Bulls weathered the storm and tallied the lone goal when Brooks Behling shot went off a stick and in behind Connor Hellebuyck at 9:02. Ryan Cole and Michael Erickson earned assists on the goal. The Bulls were outshot by Odessa 12-10 in the opening stanza.
The second period was the best in the game for the Bulls as they outshot the Jackalopes 14-3. The Bulls capitalized on a Jackalopes gaff at the side of the net when goaltender Connor Hellybuyck and defenseman Jared Docken missed handled the puck and put it in their own net. Matt Johnson was credited with the goal for the Bulls with Ryan Cole earning an assist.
“I thought we dominated the second period quite well and at times in the third period but then we got into penalty troubles,” Williams commented.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Odessa Jackalopes 34-25 including 10-8 in the third period. There were a combined 15 power plays with Odessa netting the lone goal on the man advantage.
The Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center will be a busy place over the next two nights as the Bulls play back to back games. It starts tomorrow (Saturday) night with a rare out of division game against the Fresno Monsters at 7 pm. It’s Rowdy’s Birthday Bash and several mascots from across the Texas Panhandle will be in attendance.
Tickets for Saturday’s game can be purchased at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk, 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.
The following night is Sold Out for the 2nd annual Sonic Sunday as the Amarillo Bulls host the Odessa Jackalopes at a special start time of 6 pm.