AMARILLO, TX – Late goals…
That’s what helped propel the Amarillo Bulls to the opening game victory over the Texas Tornado in the South Division Final on Thursday night at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.
A goal in the dying seconds of the first period and another in the final minute of the second, lifted the Bulls past the Texas Tornado 4-1. The second game of the Best-Of-Five Series is set for tomorrow (Friday) night at 7 pm.
Hampus Gustafsson, TJ Sherman, Brady Ferguson and Ryan Cole netted goals in support of goaltender Paul Berrafato who was solid in net. Berrafato only had to make 11 saves in the first two periods but then got busier in the final 20 where he turned aside all 14 pucks he faced.
Each team entered the game after a long layoff due to their previous series ending early. The Bulls had been off for 15 days, while the Tornado hadn’t played in 10. Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams said the rust was obvious early on.
“The guys stuck to the game plan and were able to get some timely goals,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “The first 15 minutes was deadlocked and you could see both teams were working hard and playing some good hockey. We were able to capitalize on a goal by Hampus Gustafsson and then TJ Sherman with the goal late in the period.
“They scored that power play goal in the second, but were able to respond with a nice goal by Brady Ferguson. I thought we did a pretty good job in the third period, and if something did happen then Paul Berrafato was there to make the saves.”
After a feeling out process for the first 10 minutes, the game opened up and the Bulls got on the scoreboard first when Hampus Gustafsson followed up a rebound from Tyler Rostenkowski at 15:00. At the end of the first period, the Bulls netted their second on a scramble in front of the net. TJ Sherman finished off the play from Tyler Deresky and Clint Carlisle with just seven seconds remaining. The Bulls limited the Tornado to just five shots while getting 17 on their own.
In the second period, the Bulls continued to fire shots towards the net with 22 at Hunter Leisner. The Tornado pulled to within one when they scored on the power play. However, in the final minute Brady Ferguson responded with a power play goal as he fired a rebound past Leisner to restore a two goal advantage. Clint Carlisle and John Rey added assist the play.
The third period featured some strong defensive work by the Amarillo Bulls and goaltender Paul Berrafato to keep the Tornado off the score sheet. Texas tried to get sustained pressure inside the Bulls zone to pull its goaltender but couldn’t do it. The Bulls worked hard to keep the puck inside the offensive zone. Ryan Cole finished off a strong sequence when he scored in front of the net from Omar Mullan and TJ Sarcona with just 1:09 remaining.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Texas Tornado 54-26 including 15-14 in the third period. There were five total power plays in the contest with each team scoring once.
The second game is set to face off at 7 pm tomorrow (Friday) night at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. There is a whiteout in effect so fans are encouraged to wear white. A tailgate party will also take place starting at 5:30 pm in the back parking lot on Johnson Street with free BBQ, refreshments and live music.
Tickets for the second game are available 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, please call the Bulls Office at 806-242-1122.