It’s hard to put into words or into perspective what winning the Robertson Cup National Championship has meant for the Amarillo Bulls and hockey fans in the Texas Panhandle.
The Bulls came so close the two previous years to capturing the North American Hockey League’s championship only to lose in the National Semi-Final game. When you look at all of the accolades of the Bulls in those two seasons, you knew it was just a matter of time before Amarillo was going to have a chance to celebrate.
For hockey fans in the Texas Panhandle, it’s been a while since they have had a chance to witness a championship. Some fans remember the last team to win a title, the Amarillo Wranglers and the South West Hockey League title. However, other fans have been waiting since more than 10 years since the Amarillo Rattlers, and the Amarillo Gorillas were part of the fabric of the hockey community.
This USA National Championship is not just a celebration for the hockey community but for the sports community in general.
What the Amarillo Bulls were able to do is a remarkable sports accomplishment. The Bulls finished 46-7-7 for a second consecutive year to capture both the NAHL Overall ,and the South Division regular season titles. In the South Division playoffs, the Bulls eliminated the Corpus Christi IceRays in four games, and swept the Texas Tornado for a berth in the national tournament.
At the Robertson Cup in Frisco, TX, more than 500 hearty Amarillo Fans, among the best travelling ones in the NAHL, saw the Bulls battle their way to consecutive 2-1 overtime victories over the Jamestown Ironmen and then Bismarck Bobcats. Matt Sieckhaus and Ryan Cole were the overtime heroes. After a loss to the Wenatchee Wild in the final game of round-robin play, the Bulls blanked the Wenatchee Wild 5-0 with Paul Berrafato earning the shutout.
A night that Amarillo sports fans will never forget as the Bulls win the Robertson Cup.
There have already been two major ceremonies at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.
Prior to the second home game of the season, the Bulls had a special championship banner raising ceremony in front of a capacity crowd. A couple of weeks later the Bulls were given another banner courtesy of USA Hockey that was unveiled prior to a recent home game.
On Monday night at the Amarillo Club, the nine Amarillo Bulls players along with the Head Coach Dennis Williams, Assistant Coach Harry Mahood, Assistant Coach Austin Sutter, Equipment Manager Bernie McDonnell, Assistant Joe Bennett, Athletic Trainer Denise Burk, Broadcaster and Media Relations Director Denis J. Puska, Vice President and General Manager Rick Matchett were all on hand for a special ceremony. The players and staff were presented with their beautiful Robertson Cup Championship Rings.
Remembering that special feeling and that moment in sports that few teams achieve but was reality for the Amarillo Bulls last season.