ODESSA, TX – A short-staffed Amarillo Bulls team put up a hard fight against the Odessa Jackalopes on Friday night at Ector County Coliseum looking to extend the winning streak to four games. But in the end the Bulls ran out of time and a third period comeback came up short in a 4-3 loss to the Jackalopes.
The loss prevented the Bulls from gaining any ground on the Corpus Christi IceRays for the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division. The Bulls remain three points back as the IceRays had the night off.
Friday’s game between the Bulls and the Jacks was the middle of three games between the two teams with the final one set for tomorrow (Saturday) night at 7 pm at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.
The no. 1 point getter in the North American Hockey League continued to have a hot hand as George Mika scored twice. Eric Cooley notched a single marker, while Jeff Solow chipped in two assists. Nikita Babintsev took the loss in goal.
It was another slow start to the game for the Amarillo Bulls as the home side came out charging and kept the visitors penned in. Nikita Babintsev was able to keep the Jackalopes off the board with some timely saves, including several with his glove. The Bulls jumped out to a 1-0 lead late in the period when George Mika converted at 3-on-2 rush up the ice and put the puck past Jon Flakne. Charlie Singerhouse began the play by working the puck off the boards and then raced up the ice with the odd man rush. Amarillo and Odessa each had 14 first period shots.
The second period featured lots of work by both clubs on special teams. The hometown Jackalopes tied the game 1-1 on goal by Zack Heintz who tipped a shot just past goaltender Babintsev. The Bulls had several chances to regain the lead with power plays but unable to push anything to the back of the net. Odessa made the most of their back-to-back chances on the man advantage. Tyler Pietrowski scored as the puck squirted through the legs of the goaltender after a mad scramble in front of the net. A short time later, Chase Thudium scored on a one timer from Levi Wunder. Odessa outshot Amarillo 20-7 in the second period.
Ryan MacKeller gave Odessa a three goal lead to start the third period when his shot cleanly beat goaltender Babintsev. After that the Bulls mounted their comeback charge fueled Jeff Solow’s shot from the point snuck was deflected in past the goaltender. Less than a minute later, George Mika scored on a great pass from Brendan Walkom on a 2 on 1 break.
In the final minute the Bulls called a time-out looking to get the equalizer and their studious work nearly paid off. George Mika dug the puck out of the corner and pass it in front to an on-coming Steven Ipril who’s shot was turned aside by Flakne.
The Amarillo Bulls were outshot by the Odessa Jackalopes 48-35. There were 10 combined power plays with the Bulls going 0 for 6 and the Jackalopes were 2 for 4.
The 6th annual Amarillo Bulls New Year’s Eve game will take place this Saturday against the Odessa Jackalopes at 7 pm. The night is sponsored by Budweiser and Jimmy Johns. One lucky fan could win an Igloo Cooler, a Northface Jacket or 2017-18 Season Tickets. Red and Silver Section Tickets are just $10 and free Child’s Tickets are available with the purchase of an Adult.
Tickets are available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk, Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket locations. For further information on Group Rates, Corporate Marketing Partnerships and much more, please call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.