TOPEKA, KS – The Amarillo Bulls couldn’t keep a strong start going and dropped a 5-2 decision to the Topeka RoadRunners on Thursday night at Kansas Expo Center Landon Arena.
The two teams were tied 2-2 early in the second period when the RoadRunners scored two straight goals to break open the close game. George Mika and Liam Ferguson tallied for the Bulls in the loss. Jacob Weatherly made his first start in quite a while in goal and played well facing 35 shots.
The victory by the RoadRunners was their 7th in a row and it pulled them into a tie for second place in the South Division. The Bulls winless streak was stretched to seven games.
It was an excellent start to the game for the Amarillo Bulls causing a lot of difficulty for the Topeka defense and creating scoring chances. George Mika nearly gave his team a quick lead in the first minute, but his shot was stopped by goaltender Tyler Johnson. Topeka opened the scoring with less than five-minutes remaining in the first period on a rush up the ice, and a shot that beat Jacob Weatherly inside the post. Just over two minutes later, the Bulls power play got rolling when George Mika tallied on a sharp angled shot from Jake Houston. Weatherly played well in the first sliding across to stop a Topeka 2-on-1 break. The RoadRunners outshot the Bulls 9-6 in the first period.
Topeka scored early in the second to take a 2-1 lead only to see the Bulls tie the game. Liam Ferguson got around the defenseman and wired a shot past Tyler Johnson. It was Ferguson’s first North American Hockey League goal. A short time later, the RoadRunners notched what proved to be the game winner shorthanded. Matt Jennings raced in on a breakaway and shuffled the puck underneath goaltender Weatherly. Topeka tacked on a fourth goal near the end of the stanza converting a two-on-one break. The RoadRunners outshot the Bulls 17-9 in the second period.
Much of the third period was spent playing defensive hockey as Topeka kept pressing forward and prevented the Bulls from mounting a third period comeback. The RoadRunners rounded out the scoring with a fifth goal early in the third period. Tyler Hall and Jacob Nitsche gave the Bulls their best offensive threat. Hall’s shot from the face-off circle was turned away by Johnson.
The Bulls penalty killing was again very strong not letting the RoadRunners score on four chances. Topeka outshot Amarillo 37-18.
Trent Dillinger was missing from tonight’s game due to a suspension following a hit on forward JB Baker in the second period. Dillinger and Baker were formerly teammates in Rio Grande Valley.
The Amarillo Bulls conclude a grueling part of their schedule of five games in nine days at home on Saturday night against the Lone Star Brahmas. Face-off at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center is set for 7 pm. It’s Amarillo Youth Hockey Night with the Bulls wearing special jerseys to mark the occasion. A live auction follows immediately after the game with proceeds to benefit Amarillo Youth Hockey. Tickets available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk or by calling 806-242-1122. Fans can also purchase tickets at the Civic Center Box Office, United Supermarkets or online at www.panhandletickets.com.