AMARILLO, TX – Five out of a possible six points and second place.
That sums up the weekend for the Amarillo Bulls in North American Hockey League action, following back-to-back home wins over the Texas Tornado, 1-0, and the Corpus Christi Ice Rays, 7-5, and a 3-2 shootout loss to the Wichita Falls Wildcats.
The Bulls currently have a record of 5-1-1 for 11 points, and sit in second place in the South Division, just one point behind the Wichita Falls Wildcats.
INAUGURAL HOME OPENER A HIT: The North American Hockey League made a great first impression on hockey fans in the Texas Panhandle. More than 1,500 people attended the Inaugural Home Opener of the Amarillo Bulls and many liked what they saw. One season ticket holder had this to say: “After the game – that by far was the best. There were people on their phones saying, “This was the most exciting hockey game I’ve ever been to,” and making plans to attend future games. Others stopped by the table to recap the game, and it was all positive. I never heard one negative thing the entire night.”
UPCOMING GAMES AND PROMOTIONS: The Amarillo Bulls entertain the New Mexico Mustangs this Friday and Saturday night at 7 pm at the Amarillo Civic Center. The first 500 fans on Saturday receive a cowbell courtesy of Budweiser. There will be post game skates immediately after each game.
GROUPS AND FLEX PACKS: This weekend is an excellent opportunity for fans to bring out their groups to an Amarillo Bulls game. There are discounted tickets for 10 or more, and for further information on how to get your groups out contact the Bulls office at 806-242-1122.
SZCZERBA SUCCESS: Goaltender Nikifor Szczerba is fourth among NAHL goaltenders with a 1.66 goals against average in six games. He is third in minutes played and second in save percentage. Szczerba had a shutout string of 123 minutes snapped in the second period on Saturday night.
SPECIAL TEAMS IMPROVING: The Amarillo Bulls penalty killing was very successful in the three games over the weekend. The Bulls surrendered just one power play goal in 18 opportunities and in the process climbed up to seventh overall in that department. Meantime, the Bulls have netted seven power play goals which ranks fourth among NAHL teams.
FIRST PERIOD GOALS: The opening 20 minutes of hockey has been part of the early success of the Amarillo Bulls this season. The Bulls rank third in the NAHL among teams scoring in the first period with nine goals. Bismark leads the league with 11 while three other teams are tied for second.
BULLS SCORING: Forward Zak Smoot’s hattrick in Sunday in win over the Ice Rays propelled him up to the top of the Bulls scoring list. The Fort Collins, Colorado native leads the team with five goals and is tied for points at seven with Joe Kozlak. Cody Freeman has four goals scored this season and ranks second in that department.
BROADCAST SCHEDULE: Both of this weekend’s games can be heard live on ESPN 1440 beginning with the Bulls Warm Up Show Presented by Wayland Baptist University at 6:45 pm. Denis J. Puska will have all of the play by play action at 7 pm. Fans are invited to stay tuned after the game for the Wayland Baptist University Post Game Report for the latest scores and information on the Amarillo Bulls and the North American Hockey League.
AMARILLO BULLS 1 – TEXAS TORNADO 0 SHOOTOUT
The Amarillo Bulls and the Texas Tornado played 65 minutes of scoreless hockey before deciding the outcome in a shootout. Bulls’ forward Terrance Johnson would net the only goal of any team. Goaltender Nikifor Szczerba stopped all 42 shots he faced. This contest was very physical and included two fights.
WICHITA FALLS WILDCATS 3 – AMARILLO BULLS 2, SHOOTOUT
For the second night in a row, a shootout decided the game for the Amarillo Bulls. But this time it wasn’t the final score they were hoping for as the Bulls were beaten 3-2 by the Wichita Falls Wildcats. Cody Freeman gave the Bulls a 1-0 lead in the opening period. Shawn Serapilia tied the game 2-2 with a goal early in the third period. It took one round of sudden death shooters before the Wildcats secured the win.
AMARILLO BULLS 7 – CORPUS CHRISTI ICE RAYS 5
Two goals in a five second span lifted the Amarillo Bulls to a hard fought victory over the Corpus Christi Ice Rays. The Bulls had built a 5-1 lead in the second period before the Ice Rays tallied four consecutive goals to tie the contest 5-5. Cody Freeman and Karl Beckman gave the Bulls the lead for good near the midway mark of the third period. Other marksmen for Amarillo were Zack Smoot with a hattrick, while Chris Cass and Joe Kozlak added singles.