AMARILLO, TX – The hockey Gods were shining on the Amarillo Bulls on Friday night.
AJ Duggan fired the game winning goal early in overtime to lift the Bulls past their arch rival Topeka RoadRunners 4-3 at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. The Bulls reduced the deficit between themselves and Rio Grande Valley to six points for the sixth and final playoff spot in the South Division, after the Odessa Jackalopes beat the Killer Bees. The Wenatchee Wild which are also still within reach of the Bulls were also beaten 3-1 by the Wichita Falls Wildcats.
The victory by the Bulls was their first over the Topeka RoadRunners in five games dating back to the South Division Championship Series last season. It was also Amarillo’s first win on home ice versus the RoadRunners since November also of the 2013-14 campaign.
Cody Gylling made his return to the line-up a productive one scoring twice and assisting on another while Luke Novak picked up a single tally. Goaltender Anton Martinsson notched his second straight stopping 46 of 49 shots he faced. The Bulls had built a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes only to see Topeka tie the game with two in the third, including the winner in the 1:18 of regulation.
Once of the big differences in the game was the first period where the Bulls killed off five straight penalties, including a five minute major.
The Amarillo Bulls came out and matched the intensity and the emotion of the Topeka RoadRunners in the opening period. It was Luke Novak that got the Bulls off and running scoring in the first 73 seconds when his shot eluded goaltender Drew Vogler. The goal was set up by great passing from Cody Gyllin and George Mika. After that, it was all Anton Martinsson and the Bulls penalty killing as Topeka had four consecutive power plays including a five minute major but didn’t score. The RoadRunners outshot the Bulls 16-6 in the first period.
It was a wild start to the second period as the teams traded goals. The RoadRunners tied the game on a screen shot just 16 seconds into the stanza. Just 41 seconds later the Bulls capitalize on a 2 on 1 when Cody Gylling scored on a one-timer from Luke Novak. Later in the period, the Bulls take advantage of a power play and Gylling scored his second on a tip at the side of the net from Will Harrison and Jesper Synellius at 13:36. Martinsson was again steller coming up with big saves to keep his team in front. The Bulls outshot Topeka 19-12 in the period.
Topeka came out strong in the third and reduced the Bulls lead to a goal in the first three minutes. The game remained tight down the stretch until the RoadRunners notched the equalizer with 1:18 remaining in regulation on a shot from the blueline. It was all RoadRunners in the third period, outshooting the Bulls 18-2.
Overtime began with the visitors getting a couple chances in close on Martinsson only to be denied. Jesper Synellius started the scoring play for the Bulls when he worked the puck up the ice to Will Harrison who was able to spot AJ Duggan for the winner.
The Bulls penalty killing was flawless in the game preventing the RoadRunners from scoring on all seven attempts. Amarillo was 1 for 6 on the power play.
A two game home stand closes out tomorrow night at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center when the Bulls host the Topeka RoadRunners at 7 pm. Saturday’s game is co-sponsored by Liberty Tax Service, Splash Kingdom and Ronald McDonald House. The first 500 children through the door will receive a free mini-stick. The Bulls will wear their specialty jerseys for a second time in honor of Ronald McDonald House and live auction follows live immediately after the game. Fans can purchase tickets including the $5 section at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk or call 242-1122. Don’t forget to ask about 2015-16 Season Ticket Prices and payment plans that are available. Tickets can also be picked up at the Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Outlets including United Supermarkets or online at www.panhandletickets.com.