AMARILLO, TX – After a disappointing opening playoff game, the Amarillo Bulls knew that they needed a better effort in order to even up their playoff series with the Corpus Christi IceRays. That is certainly what they got on Saturday night at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.
Three goals in the first period, including two, 21-seconds apart powered the Bulls past the IceRays 6-3 to even the Best-Of-Five South Division Semi-Final Series at 1-1. The scene will shift to Corpus Christi for games three and four on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
Brady Ferguson scored twice, including the games first two goals, while Dan McNamara, Hampus Gustafsson, TJ Sherman and Gage Christianson had the others for the Bulls. Goaltender Paul Berrafato rebounded with a solid effort, including some timely saves in the first 40 minutes to keep the IceRays off the score sheet.
“The guys responded the way we wanted them to tonight,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “We got some timely power play goals. I thought our guys did a good job being physical and we were hitting them. The pressure was on us tonight and we couldn’t afford to go down 2-0 in a series. There was great leadership by our veterans tonight, too.”
That start to the game ignited the Bulls attack with the two goals in the first seven minutes. Brady Ferguson scored back-to-back on great plays in front of the net. Clint Carlisle and Dan McNamara set up both of those goals that started at the 6:52 mark. Nearly eight minutes later, Hampus Gustafsson finished off a Bulls power play when he roofed a shot past Ben Myers. Geoff Fortman and John Rey added assists on the play. The Bulls outshot the IceRays 19-11 in the first stanza.
The solid play by the Bulls continued in the second period when Ryan Cole thought he had scored on a partial breakaway and delayed penalty call. The puck appeared to have crossed the goal line in the pads of goaltender Ben Myers. But upon further review, the referee and linesman as well as the goal judge said the puck didn’t cross the line and the goal was waved off. It didn’t take long for the Bulls to make up for that as Gage Christianson scored on the ensuing power play from Hampus Gustafsson and Geoff Fortman. The sequence featured great puck movement by the Bulls and then Christianson finishing off the hard work with a sharp-angle shot from near the goal line that bounced off an IceRays’ player and into the net. The Bulls outshot the IceRays 18-7 in the middle stanza.
The third period featured plenty of offense and a total of five goals. After the IceRays broke the shutout string of Berrafato, the Bulls restored a three goal lead as Dan McNamara scored on a great shot from Blake Roubos and TJ Sarcona at 4:52. The play was set up by Roubos who moved the puck along the boards and got it over to Sarcona who then was able to send over a cross-ice pass.
The IceRays scored the next two goals to cut the Bulls lead to two goals. In the last four minutes, TJ Sherman moved the puck up the ice and then pushed it across the goal line on a scramble in front of the net from Blake Roubos and Tyler Deresky.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Corpus Christi IceRays 48-29. The teams each had 11 shots in the third period. Each team had seven power play opportunities with the Bulls scoring three times and the IceRays just once.
There will be a watch parties on Tuesday and Wednesday night at 7 pm for Games 3 and 4 of the South Division Semi-Final Series. The watch will take place at Seven Grill and Bar located on Soncy Road in Amarillo. Fans are encouraged to come out and watch the games and enjoy great food.
Broadcast coverage of the next two games of the playoff series begins at 6:45 pm with Prelude To The Playoffs with Denis J. Puska. The puck drop follows at 7 pm. The games can be heard live on CBS Sports Radio 1440, www.amarillobulls.com fueled up UStream and on PPV courtesy of Fast Hockey.