AMARILLO, TX – A late rally by the Amarillo Bulls fell short on Wednesday night at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. The Wichita Falls Wildcats scored 46 seconds into overtime on the power play and beat the Amarillo Bulls 4-3.
The loss was the Bulls second in overtime this season. Despite collecting the single point, the Bulls first place lead in the South Division was trimmed to four points, following a shootout win by the Texas Tornado.
The Bulls trailed 3-1 early in the second period and mounted a big comeback. Michael Erickson scored from Tyler Deresky at 15:26 to trim the deficit to 3-2. That goal was part of a 26 shot middle stanza. In the final 20 minutes, the Bulls fired 18 shots at goaltender Matt Leon. Luke Jenkins tied the game at the 4:27 mark when his screen shot found the back of the net from Greg Gibson and Joe Kozlak.
“The key to that was Luke had his head up,” said Bulls Assistant Coach Rocky Russo. “He sees the defender coming at him, he moves laterally and changes the shooting lane, keeps he head up and finds the open lane. When he gets those, he is going to bury them. The problem we have been having lately is that our d-men have not been moving their feet to change shooting lanes, and they are shooting the puck with their head down, allowing defenders to block pucks. Today we did a better job of that especially in that particular situation.”
It was another fast start to the game for the Amarillo Bulls as forward Greg Gibson notched his second goal in as many games from Brooks Behling at 1:04. Gibson received a great pass from Behling who quickly put the puck upstairs on goaltender Matt Leon. The Wildcats took over control of the play midway through the first, and had a few scoring chances, but were denied by goaltender Gregg Gruehl. Wichita Falls outshot Amarillo 16-10 in the first period.
The second period was a tough one for the Bulls as they surrendered three goals in the first 11 minutes and trailed by two. Amarillo mounted its comeback with the Erickson goal. However, the Bulls special teams saw lots of action as they had six power plays. The Bulls outshot the Wildcats 26-12 in the middle stanza.
The third period was all Amarillo Bulls as they had several power plays including a five on three prior to Jenkins scoring to tie the game. A late penalty call carried over into overtime and Wichita Falls won the game with a shot that was tipped into the net by a Bulls’ player.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Wichita Falls Wildcats 54-36. There were a total of 14 power plays in the game with each team scoring once. The Bulls were 1 for 9, while the Wildcats were 1 for 5.
The game was the Bulls fifth game in seven nights after spending the past weekend on the road and arriving home early Monday morning.
“It was an unorthodox week in terms of practice for us,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “We didn’t do anything Monday as we got in at 7:30 in the morning from Corpus Christi. We gave them the day off on Monday and practiced late on Tuesday afternoon for 35-40 minutes and then a quick 20 minutes this morning (Wednesday). This time of the year, rest is just as important as anything else. We can talk about fixing certain parts of our game that we want, but I would rather have them have their legs and their energy level up.”
The Amarillo Bulls return to action this weekend with a pair of games in Topeka against the RoadRunners on Friday and Saturday at Kansas Expo Center-Landon Arena. Face off on both nights is set for 7 pm. Fans can tune into the action live on ESPN1440 and www.amarillobulls.com fueled by UStream, beginning with The Bulls Warm Up Show Presented By Wayland Baptist University at 6:45 pm. Denis J. Puska has the call to follow. 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.
Please click on the link below for the box score of the game.