AMARILLO, TX – The Amarillo Bulls couldn’t build off the confidence gained out of the opening game of their South Division Semi Final Series against Odessa on Saturday night.
Costly mistakes were the back breaker for the Bulls as they suffered a 5-1 decision to the Odessa Jackalopes at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. The Best-Of-Five Series is all even at one game apiece with the scene shifting to Odessa for games three and four on Monday and Tuesday night.
It was a frustrating night for the Bulls and their fans, as the team couldn’t seem to get on track all night long. The Jackalopes raced to an early lead and when the Bulls seem to get closer and back in the game, the visitors were able to add three more goals to secure the decision.
“Frustrating, yes maybe,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “Odessa played well and that is the difference this time of the year. It doesn’t matter what you do during the regular season or how many guys have 40 goals or have 60 points or a plus minus over 50. It’s those players that go out as a unit and compete hard and that is what Odessa did. They battled from start to finish, and didn’t do anything exceptional, but they sacrificed a lot by blocking shots or whatever it took.
“We got a little too cute out there and now we will see what we are all about with a little bit of adversity. At this time of the year, you need your best players being the best and we didn’t have that tonight.”
It was another tough start to the game for the Amarillo Bulls as the Odessa Jackalopes raced out to a 2-0 advantage before the game was 12 minutes old. Both goals were scored off of turnovers inside Bulls’ territory. The second goal was questionable as an Odessa batted the puck into the net with a high stick right at the height of the cross bar. Upon further review, the referee called the goal good. The Bulls outshot Odessa 20-11 in the first period.
In the second period the Bulls continued to push forward in an attempt to rally in the game. Their hard work was rewarded when John Gustafsson jammed one home at the side of the net from TJ Sarcona and Joe Kozlak at 18:36. The Bulls had a narrow shot advantage of 11-9.
After the Bulls killed off a penalty to begin the third period which appeared to give them some momentum, they were not able to use it and capitalize. Odessa struck for two goals 64 seconds apart one was on a broken play where the Bulls defenseman collided with a Jackalopes player and no penalty was called. Three minutes later, Odessa rounded out the scoring with their fifth goal.
The Amarillo Bulls had another 50 shots on goal against Odessa goaltender Connor Hellebucyk but many of those were from the outside that he was able to make the save and keep his team in front. There were a total of eight powerplays with neither team scoring at all.
On Monday Bulls fans not making the trip to Odessa can visit Cattle Call and watch the game on the Big Screen starting at 7 pm as part of the first Watch Party of the Post Season. Fans can tune into Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday live on ESPN1440 and www.amarillobulls.com. beginning with Prelude to the Playoffs Presented By Wayland Baptist University at 6:45 pm. Denis J. Puska has the hard hitting action at 7 pm. The games are available on Pay-Per-View courtesy of Fast hockey but a high speed internet connection is required.
If a fifth and decided game is needed in the series it will be played next Saturday, Apr. 14 at 7 pm at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.