TOPEKA, KS – For the first time in their head to head match up with the Topeka RoadRunners, the Amarillo Bulls were able to collect four points and sweep both games.
Greg Gibson scored twice including the game winner with 1:46 left in the third period to lift the Bulls past the RoadRunners 4-2 at Kansas Expo Center-Landon Arena on Saturday night.
It was the Bulls 20th win of the season and kept them five points ahead of the Texas Tornado in first place in the South. Topeka dropped to 13 points back of the Bulls.
“It was a great team effort all the way around,” said Bulls Asisstant Coach Rocky Russo. “We bent but we didn’t break in certain situations. We did a good job of battling in there. We are never out of a hockey game. We have too much fire power up front.”
The Bulls trailed 2-1 going into the third period but rallied to tie the game when Greg Gibson tallied his first from John Rey at 2:28. Dennis Williams charges were swarming around the net to start the stanza and were rewarded for their hard work.
The game was tied 2-2 and destined for overtime until the Bulls persistence paid off when Greg Gibson scored on a terrific shot again from John Rey with less than two minutes remaining in regulation time.
Brooks Behling rounded out the scoring when he fired the puck into an empty Topeka net. The RoadRunners had just pulled their goaltender when the Bulls gathered the puck and cleared it down the ice into the open cage.
Amarillo controlled the play early on in the opening period but it would be Topeka that would tally the game’s first two goals. Both of them even strength and were less than five minutes apart. But the Bulls settled down and cut into the lead on a RoadRunners’ turnover. Brooks Behling was left alone in the slot area and scored from Greg Gibson at 16:42. The Bulls had numerous chances to tie the game up following that goal.
The second period was dominated by the goaltenders as Gregg Gruehl of Amarillo and Peter Traber of Topeka made some terrific stops to keep the score the same at 2-1. The RoadRunners outshot the Bulls 14-8 in the second period.
The Bulls added two new faces to the line-up with forward Nolan Culver and defenseman AJ Strzalkowski. Culver had spent time with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL, while Strzalkowski is an affiliated player called up from the Lansing Capitals program.
Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams said depth has been one of the big keys to the club’s success this season, and was important in their win on Friday night.
“We really played a complete game (on Friday night) from the back-end on out to our forwards,” Williams said. “We rotated four lines and six d-men minus the special teams. In the third period we were rolling lines through the special teams. One of the things we really strive ourselves on is our depth and confidence in all of our players, even in the guys who were not dressed. I have no problems playing them against anyone.”
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Topeka RoadRunners 34-32. There were seven total power plays with neither team getting a goal on the man advantage.