BLAINE, MINNESOTA – The Amarillo Bulls got to a terrific start at the North American Hockey League Showcase in Blaine Minnesota on Wednesday morning.
Two second period goals and a strong defensive effort lifted the Bulls to a 4-2 victory over the Alaska Avalanche.
“We will take the two points whether it comes in September or March,” said Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams. “Our consistency wasn’t great and we need to do a much better job with our execution. I thought our energy level was good, and it’s a matter of putting it all together. I will take two points and move on.”
It was a tightly played game right from the opening face-off as both teams played well. The Bulls had to hold off a third period charge from the Avalanche to secure the victory.
Joe Kozlak gave the Bulls a 1-0 advantage late in the first period when he followed up a rebound from Geoff Fortman. TJ Sarcona earned an assist on the goal.
In the second period, the Bulls extended their lead to 2-0 when Alex Carey scored on a shot from the slot on the power play from John Gustafsson and Karl Beckman at 3:15 in the second period. Alaska trimmed the deficit to a 2-1 with a goal 1:41 later in the second period.
A late second period attack by the Bulls extended the lead to 3-1. John Gustafsson tipped in a shot from Zane Popilock and Mike Erickson at 15:56 in the second period.
In the third period, Alaska cut the deficit to 3-2. The Bulls played tight defensive hockey down the stretch. Brooks Behling scored into an empty net to round out the scoring.
Goaltender Gregg Gruehl posted the win, stopping 21 of 23 shots he faced. The Bulls were 1 for 6 on the power play, while Alaska went 0 for 4. Amarillo’s penalty killing was excellent, limiting the Avalanche to very few scoring opportunities on the man advantage.
The Amarillo Bulls will face the Jamestown Steel in their second game at the NAHL Showcase on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 5 pm at the Schwann Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota. Fans can tune into the game live on ESPN 1440 and www.amarillobulls.com. The broadcast is also available on Pay Per View courtesy of Fast Hockey and a high speed internet connection is required in order to view the game.