Early Deficit Sinks Bulls

AMARILLO, TX – The Amarillo Bulls rallied from a two goal first period deficit to win on Friday night, but it wasn’t in the cards on the next night. An early second period goal proved to be the difference as the Bulls dropped a 5-3 decision to the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Saturday night at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.

The loss halted the Bulls two-game winning streak and it put them six points back of the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees for the sixth and final playoff spot in the South Division with 13 games remaining in the regular season. The Killer Bees were blanked 1-0 in a shootout by Corpus Christi.

Kyle Hartman with his first in the NAHL, Brady Crabtree and Riley Christensen earned goals for the Bulls, while Anton Martinson took the loss in goal stopping 35 of 40 shots he faced.

The Wildcats were able to connect on two power play goals after the Bulls shutdown the league’s number one unit down with strong penalty killing on Friday night.

The Amarillo Bulls came out in retreat mode in the first half of the game as the Wildcats pushed hard after getting beaten the night before. The home side held firm until the Wildcats were able to score on the power play to take a 1-0 advantage. Late in the period, Wichita Falls tallied its second goal when a player was left uncovered at the side of the net. Forwards Trent Dillinger and George Mika had terrific chances in front but were denied by goaltender Austin Shaw. Mika fired two shots into the pads of Shaw who was able to deny both of them. The Wildcats doubled the shots on the Bulls in the first period 18-9.

The second period began well for Amarillo, scoring to cut the deficit to 2-1. Kyle Hartman notched his first NAHL goal when his wrist shot beat Shaw stick-side from Mike Damien and Luke Novak. But Wichita Falls was able to avenge that goal with two in a six minute span. The first one was converted when the Bulls couldn’t get out of their zone, and the second was on a breakaway. The Bulls had the shot advantage 16-12 and the better scoring opportunities in the middle stanza.

The Wildcats extended their lead to 5-1 with a power play goal that deflected off of the stick of defenseman Ben Jentsch in to the net. The Bulls caught fire in the final 10 minutes of the game scoring twice. It began when Brady Crabtree scored on a screen shot unassisted at 14:10. Forty-five seconds later, on an ensuing penalty kill Riley Christensen scored shorthanded from Mike Damien. The Bulls pulled their goaltender in the final minute looking for the equalizer but failed to generate any scoring chances.

There were just five powerplays combined in the game with the Wildcats going 2 for 3, while the Bulls were 0-2. Each team had 40 shots on goal.

The Amarillo Bulls return to action next Saturday and Sunday with their first trip ever to Wenatchee to face the Wild at Toyota Center. Fans can listen to the action live on CBS Sports Radio 1440, online at www.amarillobulls.com and watch on PPV courtesy of Fast Hockey beginning with pre-game coverage on Saturday at 8:40 pm and Sunday at 4:40 pm. The face-offs are set for Saturday at 9 pm and Sunday at 5 pm.

Hockey returns to Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center on Friday, Mar. 6 and Saturday, Mar. 7 when the Amarillo Bulls host the rival Topeka RoadRunners at 7 pm. Tickets are available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk, Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Outlets including United Supermarkets or online at www.panhandletickets.com. For further information on Group Rates or 2015-16 season tickets, please call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.