Bulls Hold Off Odessa 5-3

AMARILLO, TX – Rocky Russo has waiting a long time to be the Head Coach of the Amarillo Bulls, but it took just one game to get his first victory in the North American Hockey League.

Alex Peterson scored twice as the Bulls raced out to a 4-1 lead and then held off the visiting Odessa Jackalopes 5-3 on Saturday night in the Bulls 8th home opener at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. It was the first opening night win for the Bulls in two years and it delighted the large crowd that was on hand.

Other marksmen or the Bulls were Michael McPherson, Simon Morberg and Alex Borowiec. Jason Brancheau chipped in two assists, while Jason Grande posted his first NAHL win, stopping 25 of 28 shots he faced.

The start of the game was delayed by about 25 minutes due to bus issues by the Odessa Jackalopes.

All off the Amarillo Bulls players were introduced one-by-one prior to the game. The biggest ovation was saved for Head Coach Russo. There was a moment of silence to honor Toni Sweet, Blair Wilson and Jonathan Counterman who the Amarillo Hockey Community lost over the summer.

The Bulls offense struck quickly with two goals in the first six minutes of the game. Alex Borowiec scored off a rebound in front of the net with help from Brett Abdelnour and Marcus Chorney. Three minutes later, Alex Peterson was sent in on a breakaway from Jason Brancheau and it was 2-0. Peterson’s shot beat Odessa goaltender Brett Epp on the stick side. The Jackalopes were able to get back into the hockey game when Eric Huss wired a shot past goaltender Jason Grande. The Bulls outshot Odessa 15-9 in the first period.

It didn’t take long for the Bulls to expand their lead to begin play in the middle stanza as Jason Brancheau and Anthony Firriolo combined to set up Alex Peterson with his second of the game. Peterson’s shot just snuck through the stretched out goaltender Epp. A short time later, Viktor Johansson lost control of the puck for the Jackalopes and Michael McPherson swooped in a put it past the goaltender to make it 4-1. Special teams were the story for the remainder of the period as both teams were kept busy killing of penalties. The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Odessa Jackalopes 15-9 in the second period.

The visiting Jackalopes netted two goals in a five minute span to reduce the deficit to 4-3 in the third period. Zac Hermann scored off a shot from the face off and then Evan Rochowiak scored on a play in front of the net.

The Bulls power play that had been quiet for the first part of the game, was the difference to put the game out of reach. Brendan Michaelian’s slap shot snuck through the pads of Epp and Morberg was near the goal crease to push the puck across the line.

Despite being outshot 13-11 in the third period, the Bulls remained on top in the overall number 42-31. There were a total of eight power plays between the two teams with the Bulls getting the lone marker.

One of the signature events of the season takes place starting on Wednesday with the 2017 North American Hockey League Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota. The Bulls will host the Wilkes Bare-Scranton Knights at 1:15 pm with pre game coverage starting at 12:50 pm on CBS Sports Radio 1440, online at www.amarillobulls.com and on PPV with Hockey TV.

Hockey Returns to the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center on Friday, Sept. 29 and Saturday, Sept. 30 when the Bulls host the defending Robertson Cup Champion Lone Star Brahmas at 7 pm. Friday is College Night with discounted tickets available through the Bulls Office at 301 South Polk or by calling 806-242-1122. Tickets may also be purchased at the Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket locations.