AMARLLO, TX – For the first time since late December, the Amarillo Bulls posted their first sweep over an opponent.
Paul Berrafato stopped 24 of 25 shots he faced to lift the hometown Bulls past the Texas Tornado 2-1 in front of a crowd of more than 2,800 at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.
Since those three straight wins in a row back at the end of December, the Bulls had gone 5-2-3, and had been unable to win a weekend series. This was Amarillo’s 31st victory of the season and it moved them three points up on the Tornado for first in the South Division. A victory by the Austin Bruins kept them ahead of the Bulls by just a single point for the NAHL’s overall lead.
“It was a great weekend for our guys who I thought battled hard and held the play most of the time,” Head Coach Dennis Williams said after the game. “We didn’t panic tonight when they scored that goal. We had a bit of a mental lapse off of the face-off because we didn’t tie up our guy off the face-off and Jackson Leef was able to get away and score.”
Williams said the players stuck to the systems and the preparation that is needed to be successful.
Paul Berrafato was part of many story lines during the game as he made some outstanding saves including several timely ones in the first period.
It was a well played opening period between the two teams. Each club had three power play chances but were unable to score. The Amarillo Bulls and the Texas Tornado had 13 shots apiece. Paul Berrafato stopped Justin Greenberg on a breakaway and TJ Sarcona was stopped on a scoring chance by Hunter Leisner.
After having a goal waved off early because the referee ruled it didn’t cross the line, the Bulls continued to work hard and were rewarded for their efforts. Ryan Cole tipped home a shot from TJ Sherman at the 6:15 mark. Gage Christianson also earned an assist on the play.
Then towards the end of the period, in a play that will have Amarillo hockey fans that were at the game will talking about for a while. Tornado forward first rang a shot off the goal post and then a second attempt was pushed wide. The Bulls moved the puck up the ice and Brady Ferguson made several moves undressing the Texas defenseman and depositing the puck in the top shelf to make it 2-0. Christianson got his second straight assist, while Geoff Fortman also nabbed a helper on the play.
“That was a highlight reel type of goal and should be sent into the ESPN Top 10 plays,” Williams noted. “That’s pretty good and he’s just been getting better in the second half of the year for us.”
For the second straight game, the Bulls limited the Tornado to less than six shots in the final 20 minutes. However, on this night Texas spoiled the shutout bid of Berrafato scoring midway through the frame to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Down the stretch, the Bulls tightened up the defense and prevented the Tornado from tying the game.
There were seven total power plays during the contest with neither team scoring a goal. The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Texas Tornado 39-25 including 13-4 in the final stanza.
It’s back on the road next weekend for the Amarillo Bulls as they make their last regular season appearance to Kay Yeager Coliseum to face the Wichita Falls Wildcats. The two teams will hook up Friday and Saturday at 7:15 pm. Fans can tune into the games live on CBS Sports Radio 1440 and www.amarillobulls.com, beginning with pre-game coverage at 6:50 pm with Denis J. Puska. The puck drop follows and the games are also available on Pay Per View courtesy of Fast Hockey and a high speed internet connection is required in order to view the game.
In two weeks the Amarillo Bulls and the Texas Tornado will have a rematch at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center on Friday, Feb. 15 and Saturday, Feb. 16 at 7 pm. It’s the third annual Parents Weekend as players will welcome their families to the Texas Panhandle. On Saturday it’s Scout Night with special group pricing available.
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, The Budweiser Party Zone or Birthday Party Packages, please call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.