AMARILLO, TX – The Amarillo Bulls began a big stretch of home games hoping that the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center would be the tonic they would need to climb back into the playoff race.
Two third period goals less than three minutes apart quashed a comeback bid and the Bulls dropped a 4-1 decision to the North American Hockey League leading Wichita Falls Wildcats on Friday night. The Bulls trailed 2-1 entering the third period, but the Wildcats capitalized on a defensive zone turnover and a gaff by goaltender Anton Martinsson that ended any rally bid.
As the final three plus months of the regular season kicks into high gear, the Bulls trail Corpus Christi by 14 points for the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division. The IceRays rallied in the third period to beat Lone Star 5-2.
It was a hot start for the Bulls as Joey Molinaro gave the home side an early lift and a 1-0 lead. Molinaro completed a terrific passing play from George Mika and Phil Fromberger just 3:11 into the game. Just over 11 minutes later, the Wildcats pulled even converting a rebound in front of the net. It was all the visitors in the 2nd half of the stanza as they outshot the Bulls 20-8 in the first.
Fans saw a high flying second period with plenty of end-to-end action. The Bulls kept firing pucks at goaltender Julian Sime but were unable to find the back of the net. Late in the second period, a play right off a face-off led to the Wildcats taking the lead. Wichita Falls worked the face-off to the front of the net where Garrett VanWyhe scored with a shot over the shoulder of Martinsson. Each team collected 15 shots on goal each.
The third period started with a flurry of action but it was the Wildcats that were able to stay ahead for good. The first goal came as a result of a turnover in the high slot area. The fourth goal came when Martinsson lost control of the puck and the Wichita Falls player was able to freely deposit it into the back of the open net. The Bulls had a huge opportunity to climb back into the game with a 5-on-3 power play. However, the Wildcats held firm and prevent the Bulls from scoring. Forward Tyler Gernhofer had several blasts that were turned aside by goaltender Sime.
The Wichita Falls Wildcats outshot the Amarillo Bulls 53-35 including 18-12 in the third period. There were a total of 12 total power plays with neither team being able to score.
The Bulls and the Wildcats close out their weekend series tomorrow (Saturday) night at 7 pm at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. It’s Plains Dairy Back To School Night. One lucky fan could win milk for a year, while a child will win a new bike courtesy of Seven Bar and Grill. Fans can purchase either the Family-Four-Pack for $44 or the Bring-A-Bud Pack for $22. Those ticket packages as well as other ticket options are available at the Bulls Office (10 am to 4 pm) at 301 South Polk or by calling 242-1122. Fans can also purchase tickets at the Civic Center Box Office and all United Supermarket locations.