AMARILLO, TX – A big third period rally propelled the Amarillo Bulls to their league leading 26th victory on New Years’ Eve at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.
Three third-period goals including the game winner by Travis Underwood allowed the Amarillo Bulls to remain unbeaten on the last day of the year, beating the Wichita Falls Wildcats 5-3.
The Bulls used the game-in-hand to their advantage and moved six points ahead of the Texas Tornado for first place in the South Division. The two teams have a big head-to-head showdown in Frisco this coming weekend.
Other marksmen for the Bulls were Ryan Cole with a pair, while TJ Sarcona, and Brady Ferguson added singles. Chad Catt came on in relief of starter Paul Berrafato, who surrendered the three Wildcat goals, to post the win.
It wasn’t our best effort,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “I thought we didn’t battle hard and respect our opponent. Not to take anything away from Wichita Falls, but I thought we had too many guys who wanted to do their own things.
“I challenged our leaders between the second and third and told them we lacked that leadership from our Captains and Assistants, but also from our 20 year olds too. TJ Sarcona goes out there and gets us a goal and an assist, and Ryan Cole finishes up with an empty net.”
The Bulls trailed 3-2 going into the third period but a second early power play goal pulled the team even. TJ Sarcona netted the goal from Mike Davis and Travis Underwood at the 46-second mark. Nearly six minutes later, the Bulls took the lead they wouldn’t relinquish when Travis Underwood was left uncovered in front of the net and his shot just beat goaltender Evan Cowley. Sarcona grabbed an assist on the goal. In the dying seconds, Ryan Cole scored into an empty net from Omar Mullan and Geoff Fortman.
Chad Catt came on in relief and made some big saves to keep the Bulls in the game and allow them to come back. It was Catt’s second win of the season.
For the first time in nearly three games, the Amarillo Bulls got off to a slow start. It was the visiting Wichita Falls Wildcats that seem to have the momentum and capitalized on two miscues with goals eight minutes apart to lead 2-0. The Wildcats had been off the ice for nearly three weeks and their last game was in early December in the Texas Panhandle. The Wildcats dominated the shots early on, but at the end of the period the Bulls were able to rally back and had the shots lead 14-13.
The second period started better for the Bulls as they cut into the Wildcat lead. Ryan Cole’s shot from the point found the net from Geoff Fortman and Gage Christianson at 31 seconds. Five minutes later, the Wildcats restored their two goal advantage converting a second 2 on 1. The Bulls rallied again and cut the deficit to a goal. Tyler Gernhofer spotted Brady Ferguson open, who was easy put the puck into the net.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Wildcats 12-8 in the middle stanza.
Overall the Bulls outshot the Wildcats 31-27. Each team had four power play opportunities with the Bulls netting two on the man advantage.
It’s back on the road this weekend for the Amarillo Bulls who will head to Frisco to battle the Texas Tornado at Dr. Pepper Arena. The games are set for Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm. Fans can tune into the action across the Amarillo Bulls Hockey Network beginning with pre-game show coverage at 7:15 pm with Denis J. Puska.
Hockey is back at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center on Friday, Jan. 11 and Saturday, Jan. 12 when the Bulls entertain the Topeka RoadRunners 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 Rates, Birthday Party Packages or Flex Packs, please call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.