TOPEKA, KS – Another slow start doomed the Amarillo Bulls on Saturday night at Kansas Expo Center Landon Arena.
The Bulls surrendered early goals in the first and second periods and managed just a handful of shots in a 4-1 loss to the Topeka RoadRunners. Despite the setback, the Bulls were able to keep the deficit with the Corpus Christi IceRays to nine points for the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division. Corpus Christi fell to Odessa 4-2. The Bulls and IceRays have a critical showdown this coming weekend at the Budweiser Bull Pen as part of a three game set for Rocky Russo’s charges.
It was the home side that came out ready to play in the first period and had the Bulls in the some difficulty. Justin Kelley scored on a rocket at the 7:57 mark from Dallas Tulik that beat goaltender Jason Grande. Topeka outshot the Bulls 15-5 in the first stanza.
The second period didn’t start much better for the Bulls as the RoadRunners converted a 3-on-2 break to make it 2-0. Nick Schultz tipped home a pass from Matt Barnes.
The Bulls started to gain some traction in the middle period and it was their special teams that got them rolling and a five-on-three power play. Jason Brancheau fired a shot from the high slot area from Nick Anderson and Nikita Sokolov to cut the deficit to a goal. The Bulls tried to continue the momentum from that goal but were unable to pull even. In fact, Topeka stretched their lead back to a pair of goals as Jakub Urbanek scored from just inside the blueline. That goal chased goaltender Grande in favor of Trevor Micucci who came on in relief and did an outstanding job making some important saves through the remainder of the game to keep the contest close.
The third period was wide open and it was the Bulls that pressed the issue looking to cut the deficit and provide a similar comeback to what the Topeka RoadRunners did the night before. However, the Bulls were unable to get anything past goaltender Emil Gransoe despite 11 shots. The RoadRunners finished the game off with an empty net marker with 73 seconds left in regulation.
The Topeka RoadRunners outshot the Amarillo Bulls 40-26. The Bulls had the lone power play goal on a combined 11 opportunities.
The Amarillo Bulls return home on this coming Friday and Saturday to face the Corpus Christi IceRays at 7 pm at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. Friday is family night with Family Four Pack for $44 (four tickets, four hotdogs and four sodas) and the Bring-A-Bud Pack for $22 (two tickets, two hotdogs and two sodas.) Saturday is Amarillo Youth Hockey Retro Night with the Bulls wearing special retro jerseys. A live auction follows immediately after the game with proceeds to benefit Amarillo Youth Hockey.
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 by calling 806-242-1122.