AMARILLO, TX – There have been many comebacks in the short history of the Amarillo Bulls, but nothing quite like this.
The Bulls rallied from a four goal second-period deficit and then snapped a 6-6 tie with the game winner in the third period en route to an 8-6 triumph over the rival Topeka RoadRunners in Game 1 of the South Division Final at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. The Bulls lead the Best-Of-Five Series 1-0 with the second game set for tomorrow (Saturday) night at 7 pm, before scene shifts to Topeka next week.
After the Bulls scored the game’s first goal, Topeka riffled off five straight to lead 5-1. The home-side then scored five straight to lead 6-5 after 40 minutes. Those five goals were part of a seven goal middle-stanza explosion. Topeka tied the game 6-6 in the third period before Ryan Taylor tallied on the power play to give the Bulls the lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“Hats off to our team,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “Down 5-1 I think everyone would have packed it in half way through our game, but one thing I can say about our team, the players we had last year and the those this year, is that we never quit. We kept chipping away, it was 5-2 and our power play came up with some timely goals. “
Williams said one of the turning points in the game was the power play goal by TJ Sarcona to make it 5-4.
“The first power play unit went out for a minute and didn’t do anything and we still had three minutes left,” he explained. “We won that draw back to Karl Beckman and he threw a perfect pass over to TJ Sarcona, I could see it from the bench, and he put it home. Then we got that timely goal from Luke Jenkins.
“I don’t think Coach Scott Langer or I would have predicted this game to go the way it did. We will build off of this win, tighten up a few areas and try to get the second win at home.”
The Amarillo Bulls jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the 6:54 mark when John Rey’s shot off the face- off was deflected in by Michael Erickson. After that it was all Topeka with three goals in a span of five minutes that chased starting goaltender Mike Taffe. It was a defensive opening period with both teams combining for just 14 shots on goal. Topeka outshot Amarillo 9-5.
Topeka tallied two goals in the first six minutes of the second period to extend its lead to 5-1 before the Bulls began their big comeback. It was started by Greg Gibson who scored on a great shot from John Rey and Ryan Cole at 10:53. Less than five minutes later, Cole redirected a shot from Brooks Behling to reduce the deficit to 5-3. After that the power play went to work with a pair of goals on the same penalty. TJ Sarcona found the back of the net on a perfect feed from Karl Beckman at 16:56, and then Luke Jenkins from John Rey and Mike Erickson at 18:01. Sixty-Six second later, the Bulls had their second lead of the game when Brooks Behling converted a pass from Gibson.
In the third period Topeka tied the game on a controversial goal when it appeared the puck went across the goal line after the net was off.
The Bulls power play went back to work and Ryan Taylor scored from Joe Kozlak at 3:30. Luke Jenkins rounded out the scoring with a goal into an empty net.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Topeka RoadRunners 35-28 including 21-8 in the second period. Mike Taffe posted the win in goal after returning to the game when it was 5-1. Peter Traber went the distance for Topeka and took the loss.
Fans are encouraged to get their tickets for the second game of the series tomorrow (Saturday) night at 7 pm at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. Tickets can be purchased at the Bulls Hockey Office located at 301 South Polk, Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Outlets. For further information on Group Rates or 2012-2013 Season Tickets, please call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.