AMARILLO, TX – A sixth Amarillo Bulls Main Camp hits the ice tomorrow (Thursday) night at the Hardees Iceplex in Chesterfield, Missouri (near St. Louis). More than 100 players have been working hard all summer long hoping to crack the Bulls Roster and be brought back to the Texas Panhandle in August.
New Head Coach Matt Nicholson is excited to get everything going and knows from recruiting for Robert Morris University what it takes to compete in the South Division.
“I know it’s a very deep division and in terms of physicality it brands itself as being the toughest in the North American Hockey League,” Nicholson said. “It’s great because it keeps you on your toes as a coaching staff and makes you takes pride in your preparation. But it’s also great for players because they are going against the best competition to prepare from the Division I level and beyond. That will certainly help them in that transition later on.”
Main Camp begins with registration and a team meeting on Thursday night followed by games throughout Friday and Saturday. The best players will be selected for All-Star Games on Sunday. Fans will be able to check for updates through the weekend via the Bulls Website and Social Media.
Nicholson has been busy since he accepted the job getting to know the players who will be at Main Camp. He said the coaching staff will be able to recognize the top and the bottom end of the talent, but it’s the middle area where you find those diamonds in the rough to fill key positions.
“I told the players that it’s a blank slate for everyone, and that we want to find the best 23 hockey players that are going to represent Amarillo both on and off the ice,” he said. “I will be a busy guy with the decisions to be made and focusing on the ice. I don’t have background with any of these players which I think that is a positive.”
For the first time in franchise history, the Bulls failed the make the South Division playoffs and finished with just 25 victories. The bulls have had a great spring and summer of recruiting with the quality of players Tendered, those selected at the NAHL Entry Draft to the three Try-Out Camps that took place in Wisconsin, Nebraska and Colorado. Nicholson said he wants to find players who can who can play a complete game.
“You hear a lot of words these days like back-pressure, puck possession and analytics,” he explained. “I think the game comes down to the fundamentals and being able to execute those in an extra-ordinary way. That is what makes teams and players successful. I’m looking for guys who are 200-foot players that take pride in all three zones. When you rely just on one area then it puts pressure on the defense or the offense to win games like 1-0 or a shootout 6-5.
“We want to be complete hockey players and coming from Division I that’s what they are looking for. Too many times players and coaches are fixed on play with the puck when much of the game is played without the puck. All areas of the ice will be stressed upon by the coaching staff.”
Hockey returns to the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center on Friday, September 12 when the Amarillo Bulls host the Odessa Jackalopes in their 6th home opener at 7 pm. Full and Half Season Tickets as well as 10-Game Flex Packs are on sale giving fans great benefits while saving money on walk-up prices. Fans are also encouraged to take advantage of the variety of new payment options that are available. For further information, please call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122 or visit 301 South Polk in the Amarillo Building.