AMARILLO, TX – Roman Ammirato had a three point night as the Amarillo Bulls responded with an outstanding home ice effort on Saturday night, beating the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees 4-2 at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.
The victory, which was the team’s 19th, proved to be vital in the South Division standings as with some help the Bulls were able to increase their first place lead to eight points. It was an exciting game as the Bulls had to rally from two one-goal deficits in the first 40 minutes. One of the big turning points of the game was in the second period as Paul Berrafato made two huge saves in the second period to keep his team in the game and trailing by just a goal. It allowed his Bulls teammates to score on an ensuing power play nearly four minutes later.
Roman Ammirato scored the game’s first goal and then rounded out the scoring with an empty-netter. He also added an assist on the second goal. Cody Gylling and Tyler Gernhofer notched the others. Gernhofer had what proved to be with the game winner with a rocket that beat the Killer Bees goaltender just under the cross bar early in the third period.
“It was a good character win for our team,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “Rio Grande Valley is a good team that’s big and strong with great goaltending. They are definitely somebody that we have trouble matching up against because of our lack of size.
“Our guys battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits and scored two big goals by Cody Gylling and Tyler Gernhofer. We faced some adversity over the last couple of nights and it’s something we can build off of heading to Topeka next weekend.”
The Amarillo Bulls had better jump to start the game on Saturday night. The Bulls had the first five shots on goal and didn’t give up a Rio Grande Valley shot for the first eight minutes of play. The Killer Bees scored the game’s first goal on a break up the ice.
It was just their second and only other shot of the stanza. The Bulls pulled even in the final 30 seconds of the period when Roman Ammirato scored at the side of the net from Brendan McGuire and Brendan Vetter. It was Vetter who kept the puck in at the blue line that set up the goal. The Bulls outshot the Killer Bees 6-2.
In the second period the Killer Bees restored their one goal advantage on a scrum in front of the net. Paul Berrafato made some huge saves to keep the game within reach for his teammates. The Bulls used that to their advantage when they scored another power play goal. Cody Gylling fired a shot low on goaltender Olli Kalkaja to tie the game from Roman Ammirato and Brendan Vetter. Despite being outshot by one 15-14, the Bulls seem to have the play on their side through 40 minutes.
Tyler Gernhofer gave the Bulls a 3-2 lead just 2:21 into the final stanze. His wrist shot beat goaltender Olli Kalkaja short side and under the cross bar to make it 3-2. Mike Davis earned an assist on the play. The Bulls’ five-on-five play took over the in the third period and prevented the Killer Bees from getting the equalizer. Roman Ammirato scored into an empty net with just two seconds remaining from Tyler Gernhofer.
Despite the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees outshooting the Bulls 9-6 in the third period, the two teams were even with 26 shots apiece. The Amarillo Bulls special teams were also solid in the contest scoring one power play goal in three attempts, while killing off three penalties when they were shorthanded.
It’s back on the road next weekend for the Amarillo Bulls as for the third time in four years they will celebrate Thanksgiving in the State of Kansas with a pair of games against the Topeka RoadRunners. The games are set for Friday and Saturday at 7:15 pm at Kansas Expo Center Landon Arena. Fans can tune into the game live on CBS Sports Radio 1440, www.amarillobulls.com and on PPV courtesy of Fast Hockey beginning with the Wayland Baptist University Warm Up Show at 6:55 pm.