FRISCO, TX – The Amarillo Bulls remained unbeaten at the Robertson Cup on Saturday night at Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, TX. But it wasn’t easy and it took another overtime win to decide the outcome.
Ryan Cole scored on the power play with less than four minutes remaining in the first overtime period to lift the Bulls past the Bismarck Bobcats 2-1. The Bulls are the only unbeaten team at 2-0, and must win their last game on Sunday afternoon (4:30 pm) against the Wenatchee Wild to insure an easy entrance into the National Final. If two or three teams are tied following round robin play, the NAHL will use a goal differential to determine who plays for the oldest trophy in USA Hockey on Monday night.
Gage Christianson had a goal and an assist in the game for the Bulls and goaltender Paul Berrafato stopped 28 of 29 shots he faced.
In the two games thus far the Bulls have averaged just 20 shots per game which is below the average of more than 30 they had during the regular season and playoffs.
“I don’t think we have executed and played the way we should yet,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “We have to be much better than what we have been doing. Bismarck is a very good hockey team. In the third period we started to pick up our legs a bit. We have to play a more of a simple brand of hockey with fewer turnovers.
“It comes down to not pursuing the puck hard enough or putting pucks on net. In the two games we have averaged fewer shots on net than we have all year long. That is very uncharacteristic for this group.”
It was a scoreless opening 20 minutes between the two teams. The Bulls out-chanced the Bismarck Bobcats with a couple of chances in close but couldn’t find the back of the net. Goaltender Paul Berrafato made a big save on a 2-1 late in the period to keep the scorecard clean. The Bulls outshot the Bobcats 8-7.
In the second period, Gage Christianson gave the Bulls a 1-0 lead when he scored on a five-on- three. The play was set up by TJ Sherman who moved the puck along the way and got it over to Brady Ferguson and Christianson. The Bulls had the better scoring chances in the middle stanza but it was Bismarck outshooting Amarillo 10-5.
The third period featured frantic action at both ends of the ice. The Bulls turned on the after burners and played their best hockey but couldn’t solve goaltender Aaron Nelson. The Bobcats tied the game 1-1 when their player caught a pass and quick shot eluded goaltender Berrafato.
The Bulls special teams were busy in overtime with two opportunities. Their first chance failed to generate the game winner. After the Bobcats killed off the penalty they broke down on a 2-on-1, and nearly scored on a sharp angle but Berrafato made a sprawling save. On the second power play, Gage Christianson worked the puck out of the corner and was able to find Ryan Cole in front who put the puck upstairs on Nelson to get his team the victory.
The Amarillo Bulls were outshot by the Bismarck Bobcats 29-23, including 12-10 over the final 37 minutes of play. The Bulls were 2 for 7 on the power play, while the Bobcats were 0 for 4.
Sunday is the final day of round robin play at The Robertson Cup. The Amarillo Bulls get the action started at 4:30 pm when they battle the Wenatchee Wild. Fans can tune into the action live on CBS Sports Radio 1440, www.amarillobulls.com fueled by UStream and on PPV courtesy of Fast Hockey beginning with pre-game coverage at 4:10 pm. Denis J. Puska has the heart-stopping action at 4:30 pm. Fans can watch the action at Seven Grill and Bar which will be holding a watch party. All of the screens will have the game on.