AMARILLO, TX – The Amarillo Bulls rose to the occasion on Saturday night in front of a big crowd at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. Four power play goals and another shorthanded powered the Bulls past the Corpus Christi IceRays 5-2.
That loss combined with the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees overtime loss on home ice to the Lone Star Brahmas, trimmed the deficit for the sixth and final playoff spot for the Bulls to just five points with 14 games remaining.
Charlie Combs figured in four of the five goals, netting a hattrick and then adding a helper. Luke Novak and Will Harrison had the others. Jesper Synellius and Kasper Emanuellsson each had two assists. Anton Martinsson was solid in net stopping 38 of 40 shots he faced.
The Amarillo Bulls came out fired up in the opening 20 minutes. Forward Riley Christensen fought IceRays forward Tanner Lomsnes in what was a good tilt. The Bulls surrendered the game’s first goal in the first 1:16 of play but settled down after that. Luke Novak got Amarillo even when he converted a power play goal off a face-off win. Kyle Hartman and Addison Runey earned assists on the play at the 8:02 mark.
The Bulls took the lead for good when Charlie Combs scored shorthanded in the final minute of play. His shot rang off the inside post and went in after receiving a great pass from AJ Duggan. The Bulls outshot the IceRays 14-7.
The second period was a strong one for the Bulls and they added to their lead with two more power play goals. First Will Harrison weaved his way through the IceRays penalty killers and scored from Charlie Combs at 3:44. Eight minutes later, Combs notched his second of the game when he took a pass and roofed a shot behind goaltender Andrew Lindgren and it was 4-1. Jesper Synellius and Kasper Emanuellsson had assists on the play. Goaltender Anton Martinson was sold in goal making some big saves. The IceRays outshot the Bulls 15-8 in the second period.
The teams traded goals in the third period to round out the scoring. Charlie Combs scored the Bulls fourth power play goal of the game when he scored on a breakaway pass from Kasper Emanuelsson and Jesper Synellius just past the midway mark of the period. Corpus Christi scored on a power play goal midway through the third period, but after that it was all Martinsson who worked hard to preserve his team the lead.
Corpus Christi outshot the Bulls 40-30 in the game and 18-8 in the third period.
The referee was kept busy with more than 130 minutes of penalties. Amarillo had four power play goals on 11 attempts while Corpus Christi was 2 for 12.
A four game home stand resumes next weekend for the Amarillo Bulls at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center when the Wichita Falls Wildcats make their second last trip to the Texas Panhandle. The games are set for Friday and Saturday 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 or online at www.amarillobulls.com.