TOPEKA, KS – The Amarillo Bulls scored two second-period goals less than four minutes apart to break open a close game and then held on to beat the Topeka RoadRunners 5-3 on Friday night at Kansas Expo Center-Landon Arena.
It was the Bulls ninth win in a row and fifteenth of the season. These two teams will meet again on Saturday night with face off set for 7 pm.
Friday’s game featured plenty of end-to-end action and some rough and tough hockey with several fights and skirmishes. After a tough start, the Bulls went to work and capitalized on their scoring chances, while playing strong defensive hockey.
“Dennis told the guys in the third period that they needed to take the best from the first period and the second period and put it together in the third,” Assistant Coach Rocky Russo said after the game. “Obviously we didn’t do that when we gave up the shorthand goal, but after that we really buttoned it down. When Topeka did get chances in the third period, I thought Gregg Gruehl did an unbelievable job of standing strong. Our defenseman did a good job of clearing out the zone and our forwards were able to get down to their posts and clear the puck out of our end.”
That tough start saw the Bulls fall behind 1-0 in the first 96 seconds of the game. However, after that the Bulls offense went to work that was started by Joe Kozlak. He tied the game on the power play from Michael Erickson at 10:21. Brooks Behling then gave the Bulls the lead almost three minutes later when he tipped home a shot from Karl Beckman at 14:35. After Topeka tied the game just after killing off a penalty, the Bulls retook the lead on a goal by Tyler Deresky from Geoff Fortman and Omar Mullan at 17:23.
In the second period, the Bulls penalty killing was put to the test and was successful in not letting the RoadRunners get anything going. When Topeka shot the puck at the net, Gregg Gruehl made some terrific saves. The Bulls offense fired up midway through the stanza. Brooks Behling notched his second of the game at the 9:33 mark. Less than four minutes later, Matt Johnson shot at the side of the net went off of a Topeka player and the goaltender to make it 5-2.
The third period featured lots of physical play and the RoadRunners closed the gap to 5-3 when they tallied a shorthanded goal. After that the Bulls defense took over and prevented Topeka from getting closer on the scoreboard.
The Amarillo Bulls penalty killing was solid, blanking Topeka on six power play opportunities.
“The special teams part of the games have been very good for us thus far,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “We have to stay out of the penalty box. I think we have given up a few too many power plays more because we have been lazy at times.
“I don’t mind giving up the hard nose penalties because we are working hard like a charge or an elbow, but I don’t like the ones after the whistle. My challenge to the guys is to keep their feet moving. You always know when we are having a good game and because we’re on the power play. Our team speed is hard to play against and if we are moving our feet then the ‘D’ (defenseman) and forwards should be in the box for hooking and holding.”
Don’t miss tomorrow (Saturday) night’s game when the Amarillo Bulls face the Topeka RoadRunners at 7 pm. Broadcast coverage begins 15 minutes before the puck is dropped with the Bulls Warm Up Show Presented by Wayland Baptist University. Denis J. Puska has the hard hitting action at 7 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.