South Division Finals, Game 1
Texas Tornado 1 @ Amarillo Bulls 4 (Amarillo leads best of 5 series, 1-0)
(By Denis Puska) Texas goalie Hunter Leisner did his best to keep his team in the game with 50 saves, but ultimately it was late period goals that helped propel the Amarillo Bulls to the opening game victory over the Texas Tornado in the South Division Final on Thursday night at the Budweiser Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center.
A goal in the dying seconds of the first period and another in the final minute of the second, lifted the Bulls past the Texas Tornado 4-1. The second game of the Best-Of-Five Series is set for tomorrow (Friday) night at 7 pm.
Hampus Gustafsson, TJ Sherman, Brady Ferguson and Ryan Cole netted goals in support of goaltender Paul Berrafato who was solid in net. Berrafato only had to make 11 saves in the first two periods but then got busier in the final 20 where he turned aside all 14 pucks he faced.
Each team entered the game after a long layoff due to their previous series ending early. The Bulls had been off for 15 days, while the Tornado hadn’t played in 10.
After a feeling out process for the first 10 minutes, the game opened up and the Bulls got on the scoreboard first when Hampus Gustafsson followed up a rebound from Tyler Rostenkowski at 15:00. At the end of the first period, the Bulls netted their second on a scramble in front of the net. TJ Sherman finished off the play from Tyler Deresky and Clint Carlisle with just seven seconds remaining. The Bulls limited the Tornado to just five shots while getting 17 on their own.
In the second period, the Bulls continued to fire shots towards the net with 22 at Hunter Leisner. The Tornado pulled to within one when they scored on the power play on a goal from Andrew Mayer, who beat a diving Berrafato. However, in the final minute Brady Ferguson responded with a power play goal as he fired a rebound past Leisner to restore a two goal advantage. Clint Carlisle and John Rey added assist the play.
The third period featured some strong defensive work by the Amarillo Bulls and goaltender Paul Berrafato to keep the Tornado off the score sheet. Texas tried to get sustained pressure inside the Bulls zone to pull its goaltender but couldn’t do it. The Bulls worked hard to keep the puck inside the offensive zone. Ryan Cole finished off a strong sequence when he scored in front of the net from Omar Mullan and TJ Sarcona with just 1:09 remaining.
The Amarillo Bulls outshot the Texas Tornado 54-26 including 15-14 in the third period. There were five total power plays in the contest with each team scoring once.