AMARILLO, TX – One of the hottest goaltenders in the North American Hockey League the last couple of months has been rewarded for his hard work on the ice.
Amarillo Bulls goaltender Paul Berrafato was named North American Hockey League’s Goaltender Of The Month for February.
Thanks to an 8-2 month of February, the Amarillo Bulls are right back atop the NAHL standings. With a 40-win season and South Division title almost a forgone conclusion, there are several reasons for the success. Look no further than in goal with netminder Paul Berrafato. The 19-year-old native of Buffalo, New York, was outstanding in the month of February and has the Bulls right back on track to more regular season accolades.
Berrafato (6’0/180) was 7-1 in the month of February with a 1.38 goals against average and a 94.3% save percentage. Berrafato’s appearances in February were all against good and respected opponents. He beat Texas four times and had a 21-save shutout against Corpus Christi. He never gave up more than two goals in a game, which included his lone loss, which was a 2-1 defeat to the IceRays on February 23rd. To date, Berrafato ranks 1st in the NAHL in goals against average with a 1.72 and is tied for 2nd in wins with 28.
Bulls head coach Dennis Williams said the success of the team this year starts in goal with Berrafato. “I think what I am most proud of this season is our team’s goals against average and Paul has played a big part in that. We have mental lapses like any other team, but the majority of the time he does a great job of making the big saves when something like that happens,” said Williams. “His body language and his demeanor is great. You would never know if you are up a goal or down a goal. He is steady and comes to work every day ready to compete. I never have to worry about his mental status.”
Williams also said that Berrafato helps his cause by simplifying things in goal from a technical aspect. “He is very square to the puck and doesn’t put more work on himself than he already has. He does a good job at controlling rebounds, so he isn’t facing 3-4 shots at a time. I think all of that makes a good combination to make him successful in this league. I think it is just a matter of time for him to find the right situation to take the next step in his hockey career at the collegiate level.”
Berrafato said his success can be attributed to the team around him. “I think everyone came together and realized that February was a month that we had some head-to-head match-ups that could make or break our season and fortunately everyone stepped up around me to make it happen. There is a great group of players in front of me that do a great job of limiting the chances of our opponents.
Our forwards backcheck hard and play great two-way hockey and our defenseman do a great job of clearing guys out in front in order for me to see and stop the puck,” said Berrafato. “It makes my job easier because you know when the chances come, you have to be there to make the save. It is very black and white… just stop the puck so we can stay in the game and get chances the other way,” said Berrafato.
As for the remainder of the season, Berrafato said there is one goal left. “We want to win the Robertson Cup. I think if I can continue to stop the puck and play well, we have a good opportunity to do so and then hopefully that will lead to an college opportunity.”
It’s back on home ice for the Amarillo Bulls as they begin a two game home stand this Friday and Saturday versus the second place Topeka RoadRunners at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. The face-off for both games is set for 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. For further information on 2013 Playoff Packages, 2013-2014 Season Tickets, Group Tickets, Birthday Party Packages or the Budweiser Party Zone, please call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.