Bulls Trim Rays 5-3


AMARILLO, TX – The Amarillo Bulls resiliency that they have shown over the past month was a key factor in their big win on Saturday night at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. The Bulls netted four goals over the final 40 minutes to erase a 3-1 first period deficit and went on to beat the Corpus Christi IceRays 5-3.

It was the Bulls fourth win of the season when outshooting an opponent and it allowed them to split the season long series with the IceRays. Ten of the 11 games were decided by two goals or less, and after the home teams were able to sweep the first four match-ups, it was the ability of each team to gain a split in the remainder of their weekend series. Goals for the Bulls came off the sticks of Joey DiBenedetto, Jacob Nitche, Coale Norris, Phil Fromberger and Jeff Solow. DiBenedetto fired the game winner with just over six minutes played in the third period. Goaltender Anton Martinsson stopped 37 of 40 shots he faced to post his first win on home ice since mid-December. Dryden McKay lost his first game to the Bulls this season after posting four straight wins.

Amarillo played in its 29 game decided by two goals or less during the regular season. The IceRays saw their lead for the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division narrowed to just a single point after Odessa beat Lone Star. The IceRays will host Odessa next weekend at American Bank Center.

The puck was not flowing in the right direction in the opening period for the Amarillo Bulls as the visiting IceRays nudged three goals just across the goal line to take a two-goal lead. The first one the IceRays scored was off a face-off win at the 4:27 mark of the opening period. The Bulls worked hard to tie the game on a power play goal by Coale Norris from Jake Houston at the 10:26 mark. The Bulls had control of the puck for most of the power play, and it was Houston’s shot that was first stopped by Dryden McKay but then Norris followed up the rebound and put it in. After that the IceRays regained control with a pair of goals. The first one was on the power play, while the second one was off a strange bounce that eluded goaltender Anton Martinsson. The Bulls were outshot 18-12 in the first period.

It was all Amarillo in the second period as Matt Nicholson’s charges fired 16 shots on goal and were rewarded for their hard work. Phil Fromberger scored his first of the season when he bounced one in past goaltender Dryden McKay. Joey Molinaro and Tyler Hall grabbed assists on the play. A short time later the power play leads to the equalizer as Jeff Slow followed up a rebound and stuck it behind McKay. Tyler Gernhofer’s shot began the sequence as the puck was kicked right to Jeff Solow by the IceRays goaltender.

The Bulls strong play continued in the third period and it didn’t take long before they struck for the go-ahead goal. Joey DiBenedetto tipped home a shot from Zach Sarnowski at the 6:11 mark of the stanza. Michael Forman also picked up an assist on the play. After that, goaltender Anton Martinsson and strong special teams play took over to preserve the win. The IceRays had a big chance on the power play with less than five minutes remaining but couldn’t get one past the strong Bulls penalty killing.

Corpus Christi pulled its goaltender in the final 90 seconds of regulation looking to get the equalizer but that wasn’t the case. Jacob Nitsche took pass from Nick Santoro and Phil Fromberger and he was able to fire the puck into the open net.  

Despite being outshot 17-13 in the third period the Bulls had the overall advantage 41-40. There were nine combined power plays with the Bulls going 2 for 4 and Corpus Christi was 1 for 5.

The Amarillo Bulls return to action next Friday and Saturday on the road when they visit the Wichita Falls Wildcats at 7 pm. Fans can tune into the action on CBS Sports Radio 1440, online at www.amarillobulls.com and on PPV with Fast Hockey beginning with the Wayland Baptist University Warm Up Show at 6:40 pm. Denis J. Puska has the hard hitting action to follow.

Hockey returns to the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center as the Amarillo Bulls host the Topeka RoadRunners on Friday, Mar. 11 and Saturday Mar. 12 at 7 pm. It’s Parents Weekend as the Bulls players will welcome their families to town. The Bulls will wear special jerseys with proceeds to benefit The Shriners. Tickets are available at the Bulls Office located at 301 South Polk, Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Outlets including United Supermarkets or online at www.panhandletickets.com. For further info on Group Rates please call 806-242-1122.