THE SERIES:This is the second meeting of the season between the Amarillo Bulls and the New Mexico Mustangs. The teams will meet again towards the end of the month but in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
GAME REWIND:Five first-period goals and solid defense the rest of the way lifted the Amarillo Bulls to a decisive 8-2 win over the New Mexico Mustangs on Friday night in the Bull Pen at the Amarillo Civic Center. There were a total of seven goals in the first period with the Bulls maintaining a 5-2 advantage. Seven players figured in the scoring with several scoring their first goal of the season. Derek Hills notched a pair of goals including one on the power play. Other marksmen for Amarillo were Michael Erickson, Matt Johnson, Steven Obarzanek, Dan Sherer, Cody Freeman and Travis Hill. Freeman collected three assists, while Mitch Rogge and Zack Smoot each had two. Nikifor Szczerba notched the win goal stopping 38 of 40 shots he faced. He was tested over the final 40 minutes as New Mexico fired 29 shots on net.
RED HOT START:The victory over the New Mexico Mustangs last night was the Bulls’ third straight on home ice and sixth this season. Amarillo is tied for first in the South Division standings with the Wichita Falls Wildcats. Each team has 13 points. The Wildcats were beaten 4-3 in a shootout by the Corpus Christi Ice Rays. The Bulls are one point back of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs for the overall lead in the North American Hockey League standings.
FAST STARTS TO GAMES:The Amarillo Bulls have now outscored their opponents 14-5 in the first period this season. The Bulls sit second in the NAHL with a total of 34 goals scored just six back of the leaders the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Five of the six Bulls victories have come when they have scored the game’s first goal and four of those when leading after the opening 20 minutes of play.
SPECIALTY TEAMS DOING THE JOB:Despite being the sixth most penalized team in the North American Hockey League, the Amarillo Bulls have been able to back that up with exceptional penalty killing. The Bulls are now sixth in penalty killing in the NAHL with 88 per cent efficiency.
MUSTANGS’ STATS PACK:The second period continues to be a good one for the New Mexico Mustangs in the shots on goal department. The Mustangs fired 17 more shots on goal in the second, which gives them a total of 82 for the season. However, one stat that has not gone in their favor has been scoring over the final 40 minutes. New Mexico has scored just seven goals, while surrendering 20.
UPCOMING SCHEDULE:The Amarillo Bulls play a home and home series with the Texas Tornado next weekend. The two teams will play in Frisco (near Dallas) on Friday night at 7:30 pm and then head back to Amarillo for a contest on Saturday night at 7 pm. It will be one of several visits to the Dallas area this season.