AMARILLO, TX – Just one more victory….
That’s what separates the Amarillo Bulls from winning the Texas Panhandle’s first overall regular season title in the sport of hockey. The Bulls crept within that one victory threshold on Friday night by blasting the New Mexico Mustangs 10-1 for their 43rd win of the season. That win along with the Bismarck Bobcats 5-3 loss to the Austin Bruins propelled the Bulls to a five point lead in the North American Hockey League’s overall standings with just three games remaining.
No Amarillo hockey team pro or junior has ever won a regular season overall title.
The difference in the game was the opening 20 minutes when Dennis Williams’ charges riffled off three late first period goals and never looked back. It was due to the success of the line combination of Ryan Cole, Clint Carlisle and Mike Erickson that were in on all of them.
“Our depth has been very good,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “To be able to come up with 10 goals and just two players had two each that’s great. The line of Clint (Carlisle), Mike (Erickson) and Ryan (Cole) was terrific. They got to those tough areas in front of the net to score goals and I hope they can continue.”
The Amarillo Bulls offense got rolling in the opening 20 minutes with three goals in the second half of the stanza. It started when Ryan Cole converted a feed from John Rey at the 10-minute mark. Michael Erickson scored the Bulls’ 17th shorthanded goal of the season when he converted a Mustangs’ mistake inside their own end. Clint Carlisle earned an assist on the goal at 14:46. Cole rounded out the period scoring when he scored on terrific pass from Clint Carlisle at 17:48. The Bulls outshot New Mexico 20-13 in the first period.
Brooks Behling launched the Amarillo Bulls into the second period with a goal at 4:15 on the powerplay from Karl Beckman and TJ Sarcona. The Bulls were not done yet, scoring two more goals. John Rey finished off a nice pass from Sarcona at 10:03 and then Brooks Behling got his second from Michael Davis at 13:27.
In the third period the offense kept going for the Bulls with another four goals. Joe Kozlak scored a shorthanded goal with just over two minutes played from Mike Davis. After the Mustangs got on the board to end the shutout bid of Mike Taffe, the Bulls went back to work with three more goals. John Gustafsson tallied unassisted at 9:11, and then Greg Gibson from Mike Davis and Gustafsson six minutes later. Jude Warner rounded out the scoring in the final minute from Ryan Cole and Cody Rogers.
The trio of Karl Beckman Cody Rogers, and Mike Davis were a combined plus 16. Mike Taffe posted his 20th win of the season turning aside 21 of 22 shots he faced.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the New Mexico Mustangs 48-22 including 37-17 in the first 40 minutes. There were six power plays in the contest with the Bulls scoring the lone power play goal, while the Mustangs couldn’t score on four attempts.
Fans are invited to come out and witness an Amarillo hockey first on Saturday night when the Bulls host the Odessa Jackalopes at 7 pm. It’s Fan Appreciation Night Presented By M & R Industrial. There will be an awards ceremony immediately after the game in The Corral, and lucky fans could win the third jerseys off the Bulls’ back by filling out a ballot prior to the game.
Tickets are available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk, in the Amarillo Building, Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Outlets including United Supermarkets. For further information on Group Rates or 2012-2013 Season Tickets, please call The Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.