TOPEKA, KS – John Gustafsson scored two goals to pace the Amarillo Bulls to a 6-2 win over the Topeka RoadRunners on Friday night at Kansas Expo Center-Landon Arena.
The victory improved the Bulls record to 19-3-3 and extended their South Division lead to five points over the Texas Tornado which lost in a shootout.
The Bulls played a solid 60 minutes of hockey, limiting the Topeka RoadRunners to very few scoring chances in front of the net.
“We dished out the physical play and finished all of our checks tonight,” said Bulls Assistant Coach Rocky Russo. “They didn’t want anything to do with us physically, they didn’t want to fight or anything until the final five minutes. We played a good, complete solid game all the way around.”
The Bulls started much better in the contest against the RoadRunners. Clint Carlisle gave Amarillo a 1-0 lead when he converted a 2-0 breakaway off a pass from Brooks Behling at 11:35. That was the Bulls 5th shorthanded goal of the season. About three minutes later, Amarillo added to its lead when John Gustafsson’s shot went off a Topeka player in front of the net and in behind Josh Hillegas. Joe Kozlak added an assist on the play at the 14:23 mark.
There was no scoring in the second period but the Bulls outshot Topeka 7-6. Both teams penalty killing units saw lots of action.
In the third period, the Bulls increased their lead to 3-0 when Michael Davis found the back of the net on a turnover near the blue line at 2:40.
Topeka cut the Bulls lead to 3-1 when they scored off a rush up the ice. But 27 seconds later, Tyler Deresky stopped any RoadRunner comeback by scoring a huge goal at the side of the net from Culley McCloud to make it 4-2.
After that the Bulls took over and scored two more times 29 second apart. First John Gustafsson tallied from TJ Sarcona, and then Karl Beckman converted a face-off win from Michael Erickson on the power play.
Topeka added a late goal in the final seven minutes to round out the scoring.
Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams said he wanted his players to take advantage of a younger Topeka defense that’s missing a few key guys.
“They’re hurt and banged up a little bit so hopefully we can expose some of their new guys on the back end,” Williams said. “We need to play a physical game, and tire them down as the game goes on.”
That tough and physical style of hockey was the key to the Bulls success all game long. It caused Topeka to turn over the puck inside its own end on numerous occasions, leading to scoring chances and to goals.
Amarillo outshot Topeka 25-19 including 13-6 in the third period. The Bulls were 1 for 8 on the power play while Topeka was 1 for 5.
Please click below to review the box score of the game.
These two South Division rivals will play again on Saturday at 7 pm at Kansas Expo Center-Landon Arena. It will be the last regular season visit by the Bulls. Pre-game show coverage on ESPN1440 and www.amarillobulls.com begins at 6:45 pm. Denis J. Puska brings you the exciting action to follow. The game is also available on Pay Per View courtesy of Fast Hockey and a high speed internet connection is required in order to view the game.