FRESNO, CA – The Amarillo Bulls collected three out of a possible four points on their road trip to North California over the weekend.
Two third period goals and a solid defensive effort paced the Bulls past the Fresno Monsters 4-2 for their 21st win of the season. The victory kept the Bulls South Division lead at six points over the second place Texas Tornado as they won in New Mexico earlier in the evening.
“I thought for us it came down to getting pucks deep in the offensive zone, and making their defense turn,” said Assistant Coach Rocky Russo. “We wore their defense down with our cycle and Darren McCormick’s goal was a prime example of that hard work. Brandon Lubin’s second goal (of the weekend) was nice to seal it for us.”
Russo said the strong goaltending of Gregg Gruehl and being disciplined were also keys to success in the victory.
“Our defense did a good job of clearing the puck out of the zone and not giving them second and third whacks at rebounds,” he added. “We played disciplined hockey and they got frustrated against us and took penalties. We played 60 minutes of hockey and very well in all three zones.”
The game was tied 2-2 heading into the third period when the Bulls out-worked and out-hustled the Monsters for the puck, forcing Fresno to create turnovers. Darren McCormick gave the Bulls a 3-2 advantage when he converted a feed from Brooks Behling at 7:35. About eight minutes later, the Bulls pulled away with their fourth goal when Brandon Lubin scored off a terrific pass from Omar Mullan. Ryan Taylor also earned an assist on the marker. The Bulls defense and goaltender Greg Gruehl did the rest in goal to limit the Monsters chances down the stretch.
It was Fresno that actually drew first blood in the opening period when one of its players was left uncovered in front of the net. The Bulls battled back and worked hard to tie the game when TJ Sarcona tapped home the puck at the side of the net. John Rey and Geoff Fortman earned assists at 9:43. The Monsters outshot the Bulls 9-7 in the first period.
The Bulls grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second on the power play when Brooks Behling tallied his 21st of the season on a partial breakaway from Michael Erickson and John Rey at 4:06. The Monsters tied the game with their own power play as shot was tipped in near the front of the net. Amarillo outshot Fresno 11-10 in the period that also featured a couple of fights.
The Bulls outshot Fresno 26-25 and there were a total of eight power plays in the contest with each team collecting a power play goal.
The long six game road trip will conclude for the Amarillo Bulls next weekend when they visit the New Mexico Mustangs at the Sana Ana Star Center next Friday and Saturday at 8:30 pm central. Both games will air live on ESPN1440 and www.amarillobulls.com fueled by Ustream, beginning with The Bulls Warm Up Show Presented By Wayland Baptist University at 8:15 pm. Denis J. Puska has the play by play action at 8:30 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 games.
Please click on the link below for the summary of the game.