CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – One of the trademarks to success in the first four years for the Amarillo Bulls has been the ability to have leadership rise to the occasion and lift the team when it mattered most.
That was the story on Friday night at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas as Mike Davis netted two goals, while Tyler Gernhofer and Joe Grabowski each had three point nights to lead the Bulls past the Corpus Christi IceRays 5-3. The Bulls trialed 3-1 midway through the second period, but rallied with three goals in a five minutes span to pull away and disappoint the crowd of more than 6,300.
Gernhofer and Grabowski, and Connor Frey each had single goals and goaltender Paul Berrafato came on in relief to post the win. Berrafato didn’t allow a goal and in the process extended his shutout string to over 149 minutes.
This was also the Bulls first win when they didn’t score the game’s first goal.
“It’s great in these types of games when you go through a bit of adversity, and have your veterans and older players step up,” said Bulls Assistant Coach Harry Mahood. “Mike Davis, Tyler Gernhofer, Joe Grabowski, Connor Frey and Paul Berrafato, that whole group, did a fantastic job.”
For the first time in four games, the Amarillo Bulls surrendered the first goal. It happened two minutes into the contest, but the Bulls responded three minutes later to tie. Connor Frey’s shot went over the shoulder of Ben Myers. Joe Grabowski and Brendan McGuire earned assists on the play. In the final five minutes of the stanza, the IceRays took the lead on a two on one break up the ice. Each team had 10 shots on goal in the first period.
It was a wild second period with the Bulls turning on the jets in the second half. The IceRays took a 3-1 advantage on the power play, but after that it was all Amarillo. Mike Davis scored the next two goals to get his team even. He completed a 2 on 1 with Tyler Gernhofer at the 14:12 mark. Just over two minutes later, he tapped home a puck near the goal line that was shot by Joe Grabowski. Gernhofer also had an assist on the play.
The IceRays took a penalty in the dying minutes of the period and the No. 1 power play in the NAHL demonstrated how lethal they have become. Grabowski fired his third goal in as many games on the power play from Brady Ferguson and Connor Frey. The Bulls were outshot by the IceRays 12-10.
“You could tell we broke their back with those two quick goals,” said Mahood. “They got a little over aggressive in front of the net with that cross checking penalty. It was the frustration part for the Ice Rays and we went on the power play. All teams have to learn how to control their emotions for 60 minutes and play through that.”
Paul Berrafato was the story in the third period making some key saves to preserve the win, including a scramble where the puck got away in front of the net. The IceRays pulled their goaltender in the final minute looking to tie but Tyler Gernhofer scored into the open goal to seal the win.
The Amarillo Bulls were outshot by the Corpus Christi IceRays 32-25 including 10-5 in the third period. There were six powerplays with each team scoring once.
After a day off, the Bulls and the IceRays will close out their two game series on Sunday at 3 pm at American Bank Center. Fans can hear the action live beginning with pre-games show coverage at 2:45 pm on CBS Sports Radio 1440, www.amarillobulls.com and on PPV courtesy of Fast Hockey.
It won’t be long before the Amarillo Bulls return to home ice at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. On Friday, Nov. 22 and Saturday, Nov. 23 the Bulls host the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees at 7 pm. 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 Tickets or seven game flex packs, please call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.