AMARILLO, TX – The Amarillo Bulls hadn’t lost an opening game of a first round playoff series entering their third year of post season play on Friday night.
That streak came to a quick and sudden halt as the Corpus Christi IceRays netted two third period goals and held on to beat the Bulls 2-1 and grab a 1-0 lead in the Best-Of-Five South Division Semi-Final Series.
Game two takes place tomorrow (Saturday) night at 7 pm, and then the scene shifts to Corpus Christi for the next two contests on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In two previous opening round series, the Bulls had a mark of 6-2 with losses to Texas Tornado (Game 3 – 2010-2011 ), and the Odessa Jackalopes (Game 2 – 2011-2012) .
“I told the guys that the closer the game stays, the better opportunity it is for Corpus Christi,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “They stuck to their game plan and our guys didn’t. We had some opportunities to score goals and we didn’t.
Williams said he hopes the game was a humbling one for his charges and they can bounce back on Saturday.
“Our guys are too worried about everything else, and not about playing the game,” he said. “They need to get back to the focus on what has made them successful. Tomorrow will tell a lot about our team, either we will be in a series or we are going to be in trouble. Only the players can make that choice, and we can’t play the game for them.”
It was a good start to the opening game for the Amarillo Bulls who largely controlled the play. The Bulls drew first blood when Hampus Gustafsson scored off a rebound at the side of the net from Joe Grabowski and Ryan Cole at 6:30. There were three power plays in the first 20 minutes, but neither team could score. The Bulls outshot the IceRays 13-8.
The second period was all Bulls as they were able to keep pressure inside the IceRays’ zone and fire 18 shots but failed to extend the lead and get anything past goaltender Hayden Stewart. The IceRays had a scoring chance late in the stanza when their forward was robbed by Paul Berrafato.
The third periods have always been the strength of the Bulls in the three years of the franchise. The final 20 minutes was a tough one for the team on Friday night as the IceRays tied the game on a sharp angled shot with just over three minutes gone in the stanza. Then in the final four minutes, the IceRays were able to break clear as a shot from just inside the face-off circle eluded goaltender Berrafato. The Bulls pulled their goaltender in the last 40 seconds of regulation but didn’t get the equalizer.
Special teams were solid for both teams as there were a total of eight power plays with neither team being able to score.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Corpus Christi IceRays 39-21 including 8-7 in the third period.
Prior to the second game on Saturday night, there will be a tailgate party in the back parking lot with free refreshments, food and live music. The first 1,000 fans at the door will receive a white rally towel. A white out is in effect so fans are encourage to wear white.
Tickets are available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk, Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Outlets including United Supermarkets. For further information on Group Rates, Birthday Party Packages or 2013-2014 Season Tickets, please call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.