RIO RANCHO, NMX – Good teams find ways to win even when they are not at their best…
That was the case for the Amarillo Bulls on Friday night at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
Two goals 43 seconds apart broke open a close 2-1 game in the third period and lifted the Amarillo Bulls past the New Mexico Mustangs 6-1. The victory was the Bulls 22nd of the season and coupled with a Texas Tornado loss, extended their South Division lead to eight points.
“I don’t think we played great tonight,” said Bulls Assistant Coach Rocky Russo. “I said to Dennis (Williams) that we played a bad hockey game tonight but we still managed 44 shots on net and scored six goals. I think that is a tribute to our young men and the expectations that we put upon them. They’ve earned that. We don’t settle for mediocrity, and we don’t settle for mistakes. We want them to execute and do the little things right.”
The Bulls didn’t have their ‘A’ game going against the Mustangs and through the first 40 minutes got into a wide-open up, fast skating tempo with them. The Mustangs gave the Bulls all they could handle and stuck to them through the first 42 minutes until the Bulls blew the game wide open with three goals in five-minute span including two in 43 seconds.
After New Mexico scored early in the third period to cut the deficit to 2-1, the Bulls tallied the next four goals. Brooks Behling led the way with back-to-back markers 43 seconds apart, followed by Greg Gibson. TJ Sarcona rounded out the scoring with a shorthanded marker in the final minute of the game.
John Rey added two assists and was plus five in the game. Four other players were plus four or higher.
The game started out fast, as the opening period took just under 30 minutes to play. The Bulls out-chanced New Mexico by a 2-1 margin, but there were not any goals. Amarillo outshot New Mexico 9-7 in the first stanza.
The Bulls got the offense going in the second period that was punctuated by two goals. Joe Kozlak’s shot from inside the blue line opened the scoring at the 4:58 mark. Greg Gibson made it 2-0 when he finished off a scramble in front of the net by putting the puck upstairs on the goaltender.
New Mexico has given Amarillo some difficulty the past season and a half, and Head Coach Dennis Williams said the Bulls needed to be ready to play.
“New Mexico has always played well against us and even more as of late,” Williams said. “They have had points in their last six games and we have just finished a tough west coast road trip. We have to keep things simple. We have to look at where we are right now, and as I tell the guys we have to respect who we are about play or you will be down quickly.”
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The Amarillo Bulls and the New Mexico Mustangs will conclude their two game weekend series tomorrow (Saturday) night at 7:30 pm, mountain, 8:30 pm, central, at the Santa Ana Star Center. Fans can tune into the game live on ESPN1440 and www.amarillobulls.com. Broadcast coverage begins with the Bulls Warm Up Show Presented By Wayland Baptist University at 8:15 pm central, 7:15 pm mountain. Denis J. Puska has the exciting action to follow. The game is also available on Pay-Per-View courtesy of Fast Hockey and a high speed internet connection is required in order to view the game.