ODESSA, TX – The Amarillo Bulls have certainly given their fans and coaching staff a few anxious moments during this current streak at the end of the regular season. That trend continued on Friday night at Ector County Coliseum as the Bulls rallied from another 2-0 deficit to beat the Odessa Jackalopes 3-2 in a shootout for their fifth win a row.
It was the third two goal deficit in as many games for the Bulls and the third game that has required either overtime or a shootout to decide the outcome. After surrendering their fourth shorthanded goal to the Jackalopes in their last four meetings, Matt Nicholson charges used one of those goals to ignite a comeback. Steven Ipri scored both goals for the Bulls in regulation. His first was shorthanded as he guided the puck through the legs of Jon Flakne and then the equalizer was a deflection off a sharp angled shot with 1:51 remaining in regulation time. George Mika scored the winner in the fourth round of shooters, while goaltender Nikita Babintsev continued his hot play denying the Jackalopes any goals in the session.
The Amarillo Bulls got off to a bit of a slow start in the first period of play. The Jackalopes were able to press the issue offensively but unable to solve Nikita Babintsev. At the other end, the Bulls with several quality chances on goaltender Jon Flakne as Phil Fromberger, Steven Irpi, Luke Edgerton and Nestor Plarsmo were unable to push anything past the goal line. Odessa outshot Amarillo 15-10 in the first period.
Odessa jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the second period when Tyler Pietrowski scored on a breakaway when he snuck through the Bulls defense and shot the puck up high past goaltender Nikita Babintsev. The Bulls rallied in the second period with several chances on the power play but couldn’t get on the scoreboard. Luke Edgerton threw the puck in front of the net but the Bulls were unable to scoop up the loose rebound. Amarillo outshot Odessa 15-14 in the second period.
The Bulls had a big chance to get back into the game in the third period with a power play, but it backfired as Odessa scored shorthanded from Zack Heintz to make it 2-0. That was the fifth shorthanded goal surrendered by the Bulls this season. Midway through the second period, the Bulls penalty killing forced Odessa to turn the puck over and that sent Steve Ipri on a breakaway. The Cleveland Ohio native was able to get puck into the net to cut the deficit to one. Phil Fromberger not only set up that goal by Irpi but he also got the Bulls even late in regulation time. The veteran defenseman fired the puck to the front of the net where it was tipped home by Ipri to tie the game.
Late in overtime the Bulls nearly had a chance to win with a power play, but two scoring attempts were stopped by goaltender Flakne. Neither team was able to score early in the shootout so that set up the North American Hockey League’s top point getter Mika who was able to shoot the puck past the Odessa goaltender to give his team the win.
The Odessa Jackalopes outshot the Amarillo Bulls 43-42. There were a total of seven power plays between the two teams but no goals.
One game remains in the regular season for the Amarillo Bulls and it takes place tomorrow (Saturday) night at 7 pm versus the Odessa Jackalopes at Ector County Coliseum. Fans can tune into the action live on CBS Sports Radio 1440, online at www.amarillobulls.com and on PPV with Hockey TV beginning with the Wayland Baptist University Warm Up Show at 6:40 pm. Denis J. Puska has the hard hitting play by play action to follow.