SHREVEPORT, LA – With four games remaining until the Christmas Break, the Amarillo Bulls find themselves still within a great shot of the fourth and final playoff spot in the North American Hockey League’s South Division.
The Bulls collected another single point and pulled to within two points of fourth after another heartbreaking loss in overtime on Saturday night. Croix Evingson scored just 48 seconds into the extra session as the Shreveport Mudbugs edged the Bulls 3-2 in overtime at George’s Pond Hirsch Coliseum. The Bulls are 1-7 in extra time this season.
Matt Nicholson’s charges battled all game long and gave the home side all they could handle. The Bulls put themselves in a position to get into overtime after Phil Fromberger tied the game in the final two minutes of regulation when he out-maneuvered the goaltender and put the puck into the empty cage. It was the Bulls second shorthanded goal of the season.
Brendan Walkom scored the other goal for the Bulls that came in the first period. Nikita Babintsev had a solid game in goal despite the loss, turning aside 24 of 26 shots he faced.
It was a better start to the game for the Amarillo Bulls as they were able to fire 18 shots on goal and get plenty of opportunities. Shreveport jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a delayed penalty call when Shawn O’Malley scored from the top of the slot area. Four minutes late,r the Bulls tied the game when Brendan Walkom tipped home a centering pass from Charlie Singerhouse. Brey Crowder picked up an assist on the play as he kept the puck in at the blue line. Two minutes later, the Mudbugs grabbed the lead back when Frankie Melton notched his 18th of the season, converting a shot from the front of the net.
There was no scoring in the second period, but the Bulls spent much of it penalty killing as Shreveport had several chances to widen the lead. But the Bulls tightened their grip and flexed their muscles not allowing the home team at times to not gain entry inside the offensive zone. Luke Edgerton and Eric Cooley came close to tying the game up for the Bulls late in the period. Edgerton fired the puck towards the front of the net, but Cooley didn’t get enough of his stick on the puck to put it in. Shreveport outshot Amarillo 10-8 in the second.
It was a tight checking final 20 minutes but the Bulls again ran into penalty troubles in the final five minutes of regulation. That could have spelt the end of the net but the penalty killing was up to the task. Phil Fromberger raced up the ice for the puck and got it away from goaltender John Roberts and was able to put it into a wide open net to tie the game with 1:09 left in regulation.
In overtime, the Bulls had a chance to win it as George Mika and Eric Cooley raced in on an odd man rush but Roberts cleared the puck away and allowed his team to move up the ice. Croix Evingson scored on a one timer from Jordan Fader to win the game.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Shreveport Mudbugs 36-27.
Hockey returns to the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center on Friday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10 when the Amarillo Bulls host the Topeka RoadRunners at 7 pm. It’s the return of $5 Friday tickets available at the Bulls Office only. Saturday’s the annual Toys For Tots Teddy Bear Toss and fans are encouraged to bring a new or gently used Teddy Bear or Stuffed Animal to the game and when the Bulls score their first goal, throw the toys onto the ice in support of the great cause. The Sonic Family 4 Pack for $44 (four tickets, four hotdogs and four sodas) and Sonic Bring A Bud Pack for $22 will both be available (two tickets, two hotdogs and two sodas). Tickets are available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk, Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket locations including United Supermarkets or online at www.panhandletickets.com. For further information on Group Rates or the Christmas Package, please call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.