AMARILLO, TX – The Amarillo Bulls scored four goals in the final 40 minutes of play and went on to beat the Wichita Falls Wildcats 4-1 on Saturday night at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. The victory was the Bulls 11th of the season and it kept them in first place in the South Division. Tonight’s game was the first of four games in a row at home for the Bulls before they start a stretch of six straight on the road.
The difference in the game was goaltender Mike Taffe who kicked out 33 of 34 shots he faced, including some great stops in the final period.
After falling behind 1-0 early in the first period, the Bulls rallied with a solid second period with 14 shots and a couple of goals. Special teams took over in the third period with two power play markers.
“We started out slow,” said Bulls Assistant Coach Rocky Russo. “We didn’t have our feet moving, our fore check wasn’t there, our d-zone was sloppy and we committed too many turnovers. As the game progressed, I thought we finished our checks, made smarter dumps into the Wichita Falls zone and established the cycle through the fore check.”
The game started well for the Amarillo Bulls as they had some early chances but couldn’t find the back of the net. The Wichita Falls Wildcats tallied the game’s first goal on an odd-man rush up the ice when Jason Eddy was left alone at the side of the net.
The second period was all Amarillo with 14 shots on goal. Brooks Behling tied the game on a shot from just inside the blue line. Karl Beckman earned an assist on the goal at the 9:42 mark. About four minutes later, the Bulls took the lead when Joe Kozlak jammed home a rebound. John Gustafsson and TJ Sarcona added assists on the goal.
The Bulls put the game on ice in the third period with two goals on the power play. It started when John Rey’s blast from the point hit the mark from John Gustafsson and TJ Sarcona at 6:33. Late in the period, Gustafsson was left alone in front of the net and fired a loose rebound into the net.
Despite outshooting Wichita Falls 37-34, the Bulls were outshot in the first and third periods.
Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams says the Wildcats are a better team than the 3-11-1 record would indicate.
“If you don’t respect your opponent you are not going to win too many hockey games,” said Williams, prior to the game. “We talked about it a lot last year, and I think we found out first hand in our home opener this year when we lost.
“I think our players are starting to grasp what it takes to be a constant winner. It is not easy because every team is trying to get you. We want teams to come after us. We want to be in the lead, and not be chasing teams in the standings.”
Pointstreak Box Score: http://www.pointstreak.com/prostats/boxscore.html?gameid=1771896
The Amarillo Bulls return to action tomorrow (Sunday) night when they host their rival Topeka RoadRunners at 6 pm at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. It’s Wal-Mart Kids Free Night, and all children 13 and under can come see the game for free. There will be Trick-Or-Treating on the main concourse prior to the game.
Tickets are available at the Bulls Hockey Office located at 301 South Polk Street in the Amarillo Building; Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Outlets. For further information on group rates, Full or Half Season Tickets, or Seven Game Flex Packs, please call the Bulls office at 806-242-1122.
Fans can tune into Sunday’s game live on ESPN1440 and www.amarillobulls.com fueled by UStream, beginning with the Bulls Warm Up Show Presented By Wayland Baptist University at 5:45 pm. Denis J. Puska has the hard hitting action at 6 pm. The game is also available on Pay-Per-View courtesy of Fast Hockey and a high speed internet connection is required in order to view the game.