TOPEKA, KS — The Amarillo Bulls won their first South Division regular season title in four years on Friday night at Kansas Expo Center Landon Arena, and it took a strong third period to accomplish that goal.
The Bulls fired four third period goals and held off the hometown Topeka Pilots 5-4 in a well played game. Alex Peterson scored twice for the visitors, while Brett Abdelnour, Brenden Datema, and Nick Trela added singles. Justin Evenson posted the win in goal, coming on in relief of starter Jason Grande, who was lifted after the Pilots had built an early 2-0 lead.
Scoring for Topeka were Christian Thomas, Hugh Quinn, Cole Thiessen, and Brendan Schultz. Emile Gransoe took the loss in goal turning aside 32 of 36 shots he faced.
The Pilots built an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals off the sticks of Christian Thomas and Cole Thiessen. Just over a minute after that offensive attack, the Bulls cut the deficit to within one when Nick Trela found the back of the net on a wraparound from David Ojamae and Brendan West.
There was no scoring in the middle stanza, but the Bulls certainly provided most of the offensive thrust firing 14 shots at goaltender Emile Gransoe.
It was a wide open third period that saw the Bulls quickly race back into the game to take the lead with back-to-back markers. Brendan Datema scored on a nice shot from Louis Helsen and Matt Allen. Eight minutes later, Alex Peterson raced down the ice and deposited a shot past the Topeka goaltender. Ryan Lautenbach and Louis Helsen picked up assists on the play. Less than a minute later, the Pilots tied the game at 3-3 when Hugh Quinn deflected home a shot off defenseman Noah Carlin and in behind goaltender Justin Evenson.
Brett Abdelnour gave the Bulls the lead for good when he scored off a scramble in front of the net from Matt Allen and Noah Carlin. In the final 45 seconds of regulation, the teams traded goals as Alex Peterson scored into an empty net. Brendan Schultz scored off a deflection to pull Topeka to within a goal, but that would be as close as the home side would get.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Topeka Pilots 36-29. There were no power play goals on a combined four attempts by the two teams.
The first half of a four-game road swing concludes tomorrow (Saturday) night at 7 pm between the Bulls and the Pilots at Kansas Expo Center Landon Arena. Fans can tune into the action live on 107.1 Nash Icon, www.amarillobulls.com and on PPV with HockeyTV beginning with the Fit Omni Warm Up Show at 6:40 pm. Denis J. Puska has the play-by-play call to follow.
Hockey returns to the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center on Friday, Mar. 15 and Saturday, Mar. 16 when the Bulls host the Odessa Jackalopes at 7 pm. Friday the Bulls will honor its Billet Families and its also the Family-4-Pack and Bring-A-Bud Pack. Saturday is a night to honor the Player Parents and it’s also Amarillo Youth Hockey Night. The Bulls will wear special jerseys with a live auction immediately after the game. Tickets are available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk, Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket locations including United Supermarkets or online at www.amarillobulls.com and www.panhandletickets.com. For further information call 242-1122.