AMARILLO, TX – The Amarillo Bulls began their second half of the North American Hockey League season on the right foot on Wednesday night.
A hattrick by Luke Jenkins and a four goal first period lifted Amarillo past the Wichita Falls Wildcats 8-3 at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. That victory and the Texas Tornado win over Corpus Christi kept the Bulls lead to 10 points in the South Division.
“It’s really hard to get back after Christmas, you are at home and your mind set is different,” said Bulls Volunteer Assistant Coach Austin Sutter, who was filling in for Assistant Coach Rocky Russo who was on a recruiting assignment. “Some of the guys had two and other had one skate before this game. They came together mentally and brought a good performance to the table tonight.”
The first period start was the difference in the hockey game as the Bulls not only scored four times but wired 19 shots on goal. Ryan Taylor started the scoring at the 2:44 mark from Zane Popilock. Michael Erickson added to the lead with a power play goal from Karl Beckman and TJ Sarcona. Tyler Deresky made it 3-0 when he scored off a pass from John Rey at 10:13.
The Bulls were not done yet as Luke Jenkins scored off a deflection from TJ Sarcona at 13:55.
However, the Wichita Falls Wildcats weathered the storm and scored two goals in less than four minutes to trim the lead to just 4-2 after 20 minutes of play.
The second period was all Amarillo and it was Joe Kozlak who ended any hopes of a Wildcat comeback when he scored from Luke Jenkins and Brooks Behling at 7:59 to make it 5-2. The Bulls outshot Wichita Falls 16-7 in the middle stanza.
The Bulls offense continued to find success in the third period scoring three times. Luke Jenkins tallied his second on the power play from TJ Sarcona at 3:46. After the Wildcats cut the deficit to 6-3, Mike Erickson added his second of the game when he tipped home a shot from John Rey and Brooks Behling at 11:35.
Jenkins completed his hattrick, scoring his 2nd power play goal from Karl Beckman at 17:10.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Wichita Falls Wildcats 45-20.
The game marked the return of Bulls defenseman Zane Popilock who had missed time due to injury, while Culley McCloud was still out of the line-up and is expected to be back next week.