CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — Special teams propelled the Amarillo Bulls to their 29th win of the season on Saturday night at American Bank Center.
Ryan Lautenbach scored shorthanded and Jake Willets tallied on the power play to lift the Bulls past the Corpus Christi IceRays 3-1. Justin Evenson posted the win in goal with his only blemish coming in the second period.
Jason Brancheau netted the only other goal in the empty net in the final 90 seconds of regulation time.
Entering the game on Saturday, the Bulls had connected on just one shorthanded goal. That changed quickly as Ryan Lautenbach was sent in on a breakaway, and scored from a Jake Willets pass to make it 1-0. The Bulls had several other scoring chances including one by Logan Jenuwine by Keegan Karki came up with some solid saves to keep his team in the game.
The IceRays outshot the Bulls 10-9 in the first period with many of them taking place in the power play.
There wasn’t any scoring for the early part of the second period, despite the IceRays pushing the pace and getting lots of shots through on goaltender Justin Evenson. The Bulls took a 2-0 lead thanks to a power play goal from Jake Willets. Brett Abdelnour and Gabriel Seger did a great job keep the puck alive on the play with Abdelnour spotting Willets open.
Less than a minute later, the IceRays cut the deficit to a goal when Matthew Headland scored on a shot that just got past the glove of Justin Evenson. Corpus Christi outshot Amarillo 17-16 in the period.
The third period saw a big push by the IceRays looking to get the tying goal. However, the Bulls forced the IceRays to shoot the puck from the outside limited the amount of really good scoring chances. In the final minute, the Bulls tightened things up defensively preventing the IceRays from gaining traction into the offensive zone. Jason Brancheau stole the puck off the stick of Coltan Wilkie and fired the puck into the empty net.
The Corpus Christi IceRays outshot the Amarillo Bulls 39-30. The Bulls penalty killing was in fine form not allowing the IceRays a power play goal in four chances.
The final game of the weekend series between the Amarillo Bulls and the Corpus Christi IceRays is set for tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon at 3 pm at American Bank Center. Tune into the action live on 107.1 Nash Icon, www.amarillobulls.com/listen and on PPV with Hockey TV beginning with the Fit Omni Warm Up Show at 2:40 pm. Denis J. Puska has the hard hitting action to follow.
Hockey returns to the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center on Friday, Feb. 8 and Saturday, Feb. 9 when the Bulls host the Lone Star Brahmas at 7 pm. Friday is Can Tex Roofing Retro Night as well as the Family Four Pack and Bring A Bud Pack. Saturday is First Responders Night Presented by AMS. Tickets are available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk, Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket locations or online at www.amarillobulls.com/tickets or www.panhandletickets.com