The Lone Star Brahmas welcomed the Amarillo Bulls into the NyTex Sports Centre on Friday night for the first game of their two game set and what a rude welcome it turned out to be. On paper this should have been a cake walk for the Bulls considering they are currently leading not only the NAHL South but the entire league. Amarillo also boasts the league’s number one power play and number three penalty kill. On the other hand the Brahmas have the lowest winning percentage in the league with special teams ranked last on the penalty kill and next to last on the power play. However, that is on paper. What happened on the ice was a different story.
The first period saw a lot of physical play from both squads, but no scoring. Even though they were unable to solve Colin Delia, the Brahmas seemed to pick up momentum from not only hanging with the number one team in the league, but out shooting the Bulls 10 – 6.
Kellen Wasell got Lone Star on the board with a power play goal just before the mid point of the second period. Todd Koritzinsky had set Conner Enciso up for a wrister that went off of Delia and Wasell picked the top left corner with the rebound over Delia who was down blocking the bottom of the net.
The Brahmas lead was short lived as the Bulls league leading power play unit scored at 13:47. The Brahmas had just killed off the first half of a 5 on 3 power play when Mike Davis took a shot from the right wing circle. TJ Black made the initial save, but Cody Gylling put back the rebound from just outside the paint.
The Brahmas regained the lead with 1:25 to go in the period with their second power play goal of the evening. Austin Thielgas moved the puck to Anthony Mousseau at the near point for a big one timer that Delia kicked aside. Matt Lison was down deep doing the dirty work and put the rebound in the back of the net.
Following the Lison goal the Brahmas tried to get in a forward change with Cole Rose coming on to replace Enciso, but the referee waived him off the ice. So, when the puck went dropped Enciso went for the change. As the play went into the corner in the Bulls defensive zone Rose and Brendan Vetter dropped the gloves at center ice. Cole landed four quick rights before Vetter threw a big overhand right that missed wildly. They then tied up briefly before Rose landed another right and they went to the ice. Bulls Head Coach Dennis Williams, unhappy about the way things were going refused to send his players onto the ice for the faceoff. Referee Michael Zalcman hit Williams with a bench minor which still did not prompt any movement from the Bulls bench so Zalcman rang Williams up and showed him the gate.
Williams’ pestilence handed the Brahmas another power play on a silver platter which they would once again cash in on. With just 40 seconds left in the second frame, a shot came from the point that went off a body in front. Jan Hudecek threw the loose puck on net and off of Delia right to Lison stationed off the near post. Lison wasted no time lifting it over Delia’s right pad sending the teams into the second intermission with the Brahmas holding a two goal lead.
From about the 15:00 minute mark of the second on, Amarillo’s frustration with finding themselves down to the Brahmas began to spill over. They began to press often appearing to be more concerned with making a big hit than making a big play. This continued into the third period and with just 48 seconds left in the game and the Bulls with the extra attacker both Matt Sieckhaus and Joe Grabowski ran Sebastian Vidmar along the end boards below the empty Amarillo net. Vidmar lay on the ice for an extended period and had to be helped off the ice after being assisted by the trainer. Vidmar couldn’t place any weight on his right skate as he was helped to the locker room. Sieckhaus drew a roughing minor while Grabowski was hit with a roughing minor, a checking from behind major and a checking from behind game misconduct. In all the Bulls who already led the league in penalties racked up 72 PIMs for the game.
The penalties to Sieckhaus and Grabowski set up a big night for the Brahmas’ Captain Lison and the Lone Star power play. The Brahmas moved the puck around the perimeter and Ben Owen found Hudecek at the top of the left wing circle for a huge slapshot. Delia made the save but left the puck lying in the crease for Lison to pound past him for the hat trick and the 4 – 1 win.
The win was the biggest for the Brahmas so far this season. They outplayed the Bulls for most of the game frustrating them along the way. The only category that the Bulls won all evening was the shots on goal, out shooting the Brahmas 27 – 24. What may be the biggest surprise of the evening was the Brahmas special teams play. A Brahmas power play that had managed just nine goals on 98 opportunities this season, lit up the league’s third ranked penalty kill to the tune of four goals on seven power plays. Equally impressive, was holding the league’s number one power play hitting on nearly 30% of their power play opportunities to a single goal on four attempts. Black was huge in net for the Brahmas all evening allowing just the one power play goal on 27 shots faced to earn his first win in the league.
Elsewhere Around the NAHL South
Rio Grande used three first period goals at home to defeat the visiting Wichita Falls Wildcats 3 – 0. The Killer Bees’ goals came from Schmidbauer, Balsoma and Croston while Olli Kalkaja turned aside all 16 shots he faced for the shutout win. With the win the Killer Bees take over sole possession of second place in the division.
The Corpus Christi Icerays went into the Ector County Coliseum and hung a four spot on the Odessa Jackalopes. All four of the Icerays goals came in the third period from Chitwood, Monfils, Bennett and Durflinger. Ben Myers got the win stopping all 23 shots sent his way.
Topeka got a power play goal from James Ring with just under four minutes in regulation to grab a 4 – 3 come from behind victory from the Springfield Jr Blues. It was Ring’s second power play goal of the evening as he opened the scoring in the first and was followed by Fernsler with a power play goal to give the Road Runners an early two goal lead. Springfield responded with three goals, one in each period before Topeka got a goal from Uhrik and Ring’s game winner. PJ Bridges had 32 saves for the win.
Current NAHL South Standings