WICHITA FALLS, TX – For a fourth straight year the Amarillo Bulls are going to play in the South Division Final, and for the third time in that stretch they will face their arch rival Topeka RoadRunners when the series gets underway Easter Weekend.
The Bulls punched their ticket to the divisional final thanks to the heroics of forward Kyle Gattelaro who scored 26 seconds into the third period to snap a 2-2 and give the visitors a 3-2 victory at Kay Yeager Coliseum. The Bulls win the Best-of-Five South Division Semi-Final Series 3-0. It’s the first sweep of an opening round series by Amarillo in four years and, it was the team’s ninth consecutive South Division victory dating back to the series against Corpus Christi last season.
Joe Grabowski and Eric Purcell had the other Bulls goals, while Collin Delia stopped 33 of 35 shots he faced for his second playoff win and first to close out a series.
Friday night’s game was the first time the Bulls had trailed in the series falling behind 1-0 and 2-1 in the first and second period but only to rally and tie.
There were key line-up changes both teams as Ben Jentsch makes his playoff debut for Amarillo while Collin Staub did likewise for Wichita Falls.
It was a tough opening 20 minutes for the Amarillo Bulls as the Wildcats played like a desperate team not wanting their season to end. The Wildcats opened the scoring in the first minute of play, capitalizing on a rebound in front. The Bulls pulled even nearly 5 minutes later when Joe Grabowski scored on a screen shot from the point from Brendan McGuire and Cody Gylling. The Wildcats outshot the Bulls 16-8 in the first period.
The Bulls fell behind 2-1 early in the second period when they failed to get the puck out of their own zone. The Bulls had a goal called off when the referee blew his whistle after the puck had crossed the line. Eric Purcell tied the game 2-2 for Amarillo when he finished off a play from Kyle Gattelaro at the 13:40 mark of the stanza. The Wildcats again had the shot advantage 11-7.
Kyle Gattelaro has been scoring timely goals in the post season for Amarillo and he made the most of a chance in the opening seconds of the third period. He took the puck and skated through the Wildcats zone and wrapped around a shot on the short side beating goaltender David Zevnik. Mike Davis and Roman Ammirato got assists on the play.
The Bulls had a couple of scoring chances to extend the lead on Wichita Falls but couldn’t capitalize in front. The Wichita Falls Wildcats threw everything they had at the Bulls’ goal only to be turned away by solid defensively play and timely saves by Collin Delia. The Wildcats pulled their goaltender in the final minute, but failed to pull even as their season came to an end when the horn sounded.
The Amarillo Bulls were outshot 35-20 by the Wildcats. There were just two power play opportunities with the Bulls having both of them.
The first two games of the South Division between the Bulls and the Topeka RoadRunners will take place next Friday, Apr. 18 and Saturday, Arp. 19 at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center at 7 pm. Tickets for the games can be purchased 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, call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.