AMARILLO, TX – Saving the best for last…
That’s what the Amarillo Bulls and the Topeka RoadRunners did on Saturday night in front of a crowd of over 3,000 at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. In their last regular season meeting of the season, the Bulls and the RoadRunners battled it out hard for 65 minutes that the home side largely controlled. In the end, the Amarillo Bulls gained at least one point for the 18th straight time as they suffered a 4-3 shootout loss at the hands of the RoadRunners.
“We whipped them up and down the ice all game long,” said Bulls Assistant Coach Rocky Russo. “At the end of the day we were the better hockey team. There are no ties or shootouts in the playoffs and if they want to lace them up and play again, we are ready. We will beat them in a five game series.”
The Bulls outshot the RoadRunners 22-10 over the final 45 minutes of play. Russo said the Bulls threw 109 hits in the game which was almost double their average of 60.
“The guys bought into what we were telling them tonight and they finished their checks all over the ice,” he added.
The Bulls came out strong in the opening 20 minutes and took the physical play early to their rivals. Topeka would quiet the big crowd by scoring just over three minutes into the game. The Bulls tallied the next two to take the lead. It was started with a goal by Tyler Deresky who came onto the ice after the Bulls killed off a penalty and scored on a partial breakway at the 6:39 mark. Four minutes later, Clint Carlisle scored on a sharp angle at the side of the net from TJ Sarcona.
But before the end of the stanza, the RoadRunners pulled even on a controversial goal that was believed to be batted in by a high stick.
It was a physical and emotionally charged first 20 minutes that featured three fights.
The second period featured more intensity and the Bulls outworked and outhustled the RoadRunners. TJ Sarcona gave the Bulls the lead when he scored off a kind bounce off the boards. Amarillo outshot Topeka 8-3 in the second stanza.
Near the midway mark of the third period, the RoadRunners pulled even on the shot from the point.
The Bulls had the best chances in overtime, but couldn’t beat goaltender Peter Traber.
The shootout was almost a carbon copy of Friday night with Topeka jumping out to an early lead, forcing the Bulls to tie it up. Newcomer Ryan Cole had the lone goal in the five-on-five segment.
Saturday’s game marked the 25th meeting, including regular season and playoffs, between Amarillo and Topeka in their short history. The Bulls have dominated the series between the two rivals with an advantage of 14-9-2. Head Coach Dennis Williams said that games against Topeka are fun to coach.
“Topeka is a fun team to play and that’s why we like playing in the South Division,” said Williams. “We get to play teams like them and Texas and the rest of the division. But especially these guys (Topeka), because we have built such a relationship playing them so many times last year and carrying over this year. They are fun games, intense, and emotional.”
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Topeka RoadRunners 37-22. There were 13 total power plays in the game with the RoadRunners going 1 for 8 and the Bulls were 0 for 5.
There is no hockey next weekend for the Amarillo Bulls as they it off. That weekend off is the first of two in the second half of the season. The Bulls won’t see action until Friday, Jan. 27 when they visit the Odessa Jackalopes at 7 pm at Ector County Coliseum. Then it’s back on home ice for the Bulls with back-to-back games (Saturday, Jan. 28 and Sunday, Jan. 29) against the Fresno Monsters and the Odessa Jackalopes. Sunday, Jan. 29 is the second annual Sonic Sunday where fans can get into the game free courtesy of Sonic America’s Drive In. Tickets can be picked up at the Bulls Office 301 South Polk or the Civic Center Box Office.
For further information on Group Rates, Flex Packs or Corporate Marketing Partnerships, please call the Bulls office at 806-242-1122.