ODESSA, TX – The Amarillo Bulls got their four consecutive game road trip off to a terrific start on Thursday night.
Five goals in the opening period powered the Bulls past the Odessa Jackalopes 8-2 for their 16th win of the season. The victory pulled the Bulls out to a four point lead over second place Texas Tornado with the two teams set for a big showdown on Friday and Saturday night at Dr. Pepper Arena.
“We’re coming off a tough loss (in Topeka) last weekend and it’s important to get off on the right foot,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams prior to the game. “We have some new guys in the line-up who didn’t play last weekend, and hopefully they have some energy and jump in them.”
That fast start that Coach Williams was looking for kicked into overdrive in the first period. The Amarillo Bulls scored five goals on 19 shots and chased starting goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. Greg Gibson got the scoring started just 77 seconds into the game with his second in a Bulls’ uniform. Omar Mullan and Brooks Behling added assists on the goal.
The Bulls were awarded a penalty shot shortly after on a scramble in front of the net as an Odessa player covered the puck in the goal crease. Greg Gibson took the shot for the Bulls but was denied by Hellebuyck. However, that didn’t stop the Bulls as Karl Beckman wired a slap shot home on that same power play to make it 2-0. Tyler Deresky and Matt Johnson had assists on the goal.
The offense kept coming and this time Clint Carlisle who was left alone and scored at the 7:31 mark from Brooks Behling. The Bulls added two more at the end of the period. First, Brooks Behling shorthanded with a bullet from inside the blueline with help from Brandon Lubin. TJ Sarcona made it 5-0 when he scored in the high slot area at 17:35 from Matt Johnson and Clint Carlisle.
The second period was full of power play opportunities for both teams. The Bulls made it a 6-0 game when Joe Kozlak scored on scramble in front of the net from Greg Gibson and Omar Mullan.
The Jackalopes got on the scoreboard on a shot from the face off dot. Amarillo outshot Odessa by a 2 to 1 margin — 35-15 through 40 minutes.
The Bulls hard work continued in the third period when Michael Erickson scored a pair of goals just over three minutes apart. Darren McCormick, Tyler Deresky, Matt Johnson and TJ Sarcona picked up assists on those goals. The first one was even strength and the second was via the power play. Odessa scored a power play goal to round out the scoring
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Jackalopes 44-23. The Bulls had three power play goals on six opportunities, while Odessa netted one goal on six power play attempts.
This game was the start of a four consecutive games on the road for the Bulls with travel. Bulls Assistant Coach Rocky Russo said not only is the road trip a physical test but a mental one too.
“They were on the road all last week and then played two tough games,” Russo said. “We returned home for about 48 hours tops and then went back on the road. We’re just starting with the four games in four nights. We jump on the bus here and head to Frisco and get to play two tough games, against the Tornado who are hot on our heels.”
That two game set with the Texas Tornado is set to start Friday night and continue Saturday at Dr. Pepper Arena. Both face-off times are set for 7:30 pm. Fans can tune into the action live on ESPN1440 and www.amarillobulls.com beginning with the Bulls Warm Up Show Presented by Wayland Baptist University at 7:15 pm. Denis J. Puska has the play by play action at 7:30 pm.