The Lone Star Brahmas played host to the defending NAHL Champion Amarillo Bulls for their first meeting of the season on Friday night. Play early was back and forth with the Brahmas pressuring Collin Delia.
Lone Star had a golden opportunity starting at 9:02 when they went on a full two minute 5 on 3 power play. About half way through the power play the Brahmas had Delia down and out but a bouncing puck foiled the scoring opportunity.
Amarillo seemed to gain some momentum from the big penalty kill and went on a power play of their own at 11:57 on a makeup cross checking call in the corner. At 13:28, Joe Grabowski sent a slapshot from far point that went off a couple bodies in front including Mike Davis and hopped over the right pad of Jacob Nehama. Brett Szajner was credited with the secondary assist. With only seconds left in the period the Brahmas were threatening when the puck went off a shin pad resulting in an Amarillo 3 on 1 breakaway. Mitch Mueller played it about as well as can be expected and forced Roman Ammirato to give the puck up to Brendan McGuire who went just under the cross bar for the two goal lead. Time of the goal was 19:46.
At 4:14 of the second, strong play by Mueller won a puck battle in the corner of the defensive zone and sprung Alexey Solovyev on a scamper down the near boards. Solovyev stepped around a defender in front of the Brahmas bench and fired it past Delia blocker side. The Brahmas pulled even at the 14:58 mark when Gordie Helmuth sent Kellen Wasell into the zone. Wasell carried the puck low on the right wing side and found RJ Salvato trailing on the near side and he ripped it over the right pad. From there Amarillo reverted to their standard M.O. with questionable physical play. In all the Bulls were whistled for two kneeing penalties on the night.
Amarillo went on the power play early in the third period and once again used bodies in front to get the puck past Nehama. Brady Ferguson sent a shot from the far point that was tipped in front by Grabowski and past Nehama’s right skate at 4:43. The rest of the period saw the Brahmas generate multiple scoring chances but they could not put the puck behind Delia. Amarillo finally iced the game away at 19:10 when a bouncing puck eluded Anthony Mousseau giving Tyler Gernhofer a clear shot at the empty net.
The Brahmas outshot Amarillo 23 – 22 on the night but were unable to score on six power play attempts which turned out to be the difference in the game as the Bulls converted on two of five opportunities. Lone Star competed all night and pushed Amarillo to the end in a game that on paper should have been a walk for the Bulls. This is a Brahmas team that has no quit and has shown steady improvement of late. Throw in the recent additions to the Forward lines and the Brahmas are poised to turn the corner and start racking up some wins.