AMARILLO, TX – It’s been a long time between home wins for the Amarillo Bulls to say the least. In fact, 15 games, going back to February 20th of the 2015-16 season was the last time that a Bulls team had tasted a victory at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.
That streak finally came to a halt on Friday night and it took a pair of Floridians to get the job done as well as a total team effort from the remainder of the roster. George Mika fired the first three goals of the game and then added two more assists in the third period, while Jeff Solow scored once and set up three more as the Bulls held off their arch rival Topeka RoadRunners 7-5.
The win by the Bulls propelled them into a three-way tie for the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division with the RoadRunners and the Corpus Christi IceRays. The Bulls have an opportunity, with some help, to take over that spot for themselves with a second win on Saturday night.
Luke Edgerton, Cole Lussier, and Brendan Walkom netted goals for the Bulls, while Nikita Babintsev posted the win in goal. Alex Truscott also had a couple of helpers. The Bulls are 2-1-1 in their last four games.
The night didn’t start well for the Amarillo Bulls as the RoadRunners raced out to a 2-0 lead before the game was two minutes old. Alex Frye and Jeff Makowski netted goals for the visitors. It took the power play, which had struggled in recent games, to finally hit the mark scoring twice including once on a five-minute power play. Recent NCAA College Commitment George Mika (UMASS-Amherst) went to work with two sizzling slap shots that sailed over the shoulder of goaltender Ryan Snowden. Jeff Solow assisted on both them. Mika then concluded his hat trick with a two on one in the final three minutes of the stanza finishing off a great play from Charlie Singerhouse and Alex Truscott. The Bulls were all over Topeka in the first, outshooting the visitors 23-9.
Special teams proved to be critical in the middle stanza as Cole Lussier notched his first North American Hockey League goal shorthanded to increase the lead to 4-2. That marker was the third shorthanded goal of the season and second in as many games for Matt Nicholson’s charges. Topeka cut into the Amarillo lead late in the second period with a power play goal of its own when Peyton Frantti scored on a one timer. But in the dying seconds of the period Luke Edgerton concluded a mad scramble in front of the net tipping the puck into the open cage to restore a two goal lead. Steven Ipri and Alex Truscott had assists on the play. The Bulls outshot Topeka 17-13 in that period.
Things got interesting in the third period as Nigel Nelson tallied for the visitors to shrink the Bulls lead to 5-4. Brendan Walkom made it 6-4 when he tipped home a shot from George Mika and Phil Fromberger. Marcus Russell gave the RoadRunners some life with a late goal with just eight minutes left in regulation. Down the stretch the Bulls got stronger defensively and sealed the win when George Mika won the face-off deep inside the defensive zone to Jeff Solow who fired the puck the length of ice into the open net.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Topeka RoadRunners 49-28. There were six total power plays in the game (each team with a five minute major) with the Bulls going 2-4 and Topeka was 1 for 2.
Saturday night’s game between the Amarillo Bulls and the Topeka RoadRunners is expected to be another thriller at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. The puck drop is set for 7 pm. It’s the annual Toys for Tots Teddy Bear Toss and fans are encouraged to bring a new or gently used Teddy Bear or Stuffed Animal to the game and when the Bulls score their first goal throw the toys onto the ice in support of the great cause. It’s also the Sonic Family Four Pack for $44 and the Sonic Bring A Bud Pack for $22. Santa Claus will make a visit to the Amarillo Civic Center and one lucky child could win a bike from Seven Grill and Bar. Tickets are available at the Bulls Office open from 10 am to 4 pm, Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Outlets including United Supermarkets or by calling 806-242-1122.