AMARILLO, TX – The Amarillo Bulls saw a five game winning streak on New Year’s Eve come to an end on Thursday night after falling to the Wichita Falls Wildcats 4-2 at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.
Trent Dillinger and Joey Molinaro tallied for the Bulls in the loss while Anton Martinsson stopped 42 of 46 shots he faced. The loss kept the Bulls eight points back of the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division. The Bulls had entered the unofficial 2nd half of the season with a mark of 3-2 in their last five games and playing some of their best hockey.
The visiting Wildcats came out strong and had the Bulls penned inside their own end for much of the opening period. Wichita Falls grabbed the first goal thanks to a tipped puck that snuck through the short side of Martinsson. Nine minutes later, the Wildcats extended their lead to 2-0 with a power play goal that was scored on a great pass to the front of the net. Amarillo did have a few scoring chances late in the period, including a shot from Matt Nehls at the point that was turned aside by Justin Kapelmaster. Wichita Falls outshot the Bulls 16-7 in the first period.
The Bulls came out fired up to start the middle stanza and quickly tied the game. Forward Charlie Singerhouse threw a backhand shot to the front of the net that was miss-handled by the goaltender Kapelmaster. Trent Dillinger was able to collect the puck and slide it in the goal. Thirteen seconds later, Joey Molinaro was sent in on a 2-on-1 with Tyler Gernhofer and took the puck to the net scoring on a great individual effort. Brendan Walkom picked up an assist on the play. The Wildcats looked to take the lead in the 2nd half of the period but were denied by the strong goaltending of Martinsson.
Penalty killing was outstanding for the Bulls late as the team successfully prevented the opposition from scoring on a five minute penalty. Defenseman Riley DeFazio blocked several shots on one sequence. The Bulls were outshot 17-7 in the second period.
Amarillo continued to push forward in the third period but couldn’t get the puck past the goaltender. Tyler Gernhofer had two terrific scoring opportunities with one sailing overtop the net and the other going just wide. The Bulls also had a 2 on 1 break thanks to the hard work of defenseman Phil Fromberger but Kapelmaster found a way to keep the puck out. The Wildcats took a 3-2 lead converting a 2 on 1 break. A short time later, the Wildcats added an insurance goal with Nikita Litviak scoring on a great shot. Despite having a 13-11 advantage in the final frame, the Bulls were still outshot overall 46-27.
The Amarillo Bulls first game of 2016 is Saturday night against the same Wichita Falls Wildcats. This time its set for Kay Yeager Coliseum at 7 pm. Fans can tune into the action live on CBS Sports Radio 1440, online at www.amarillobulls.com and on PPV with Fast hockey, beginning with the Wayland Baptist University Warm Up Show at 6:40 pm with Denis J. Puska.
Hockey is back at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center on Friday, Jan. 15 and Saturday, Jan. 16 when the Bulls host the Wichita Falls Wildcats. The face off for both games are set for 7 pm. Friday is Superheroes night presented by Liberty Tax Service while Saturday is sponsored by Marble Depot. 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 call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.