It's only 6 games into the season, but the Amarillo Gorillas are quickly beginning to show the Central Hockey League that the Gorillas are looking very tough and dangerous in the first couple of weeks into the season.
Last week was a great example as the Sundogs out shot the Gorillas 46-22 during the game. However, the reining goaltender of the week had another stellar game by stopping 44 of 46 shots in the 5-2 win over the Sundogs back on Wednesday night by the help of a great PP by going 2-6 in the game including opening the scoring and put the game away in the final minutes.
Their penalty killing was also very strong by only allowing 1 PP Goal and Jake Morrissette scoring short handed midway through the 3rd period with great assists by James Jernberg and Austin Sutter.
Their top players are leading the way, including Joe Guenther who's leading the league with 7 goals through 6 games so far. This past weekend, he also had 2 goals in the 3-2 win over the Missouri Mavericks back on Saturday night. Some other important forwards that have been off to good starts include Jake Morissette with 5 goals and Anthony Bataglia who already has 4 goals in the young season.
If Amarillo wants to prove that the Gorillas are for real this year and that the start is not just a fluke after finishing with the worst record in the league last year by winning only 19 games all of last season. They will need to get rid of the culture of losing that's plagued the team the last few seasons, players like Joe Guenther who's shaping up to be a contender for the CHL Scoring title this season, along with Anthony Bataglia and Stuart Macrea to help put the puck in the net.
On defense, Andrew Smale has been great on the blue line where he's expected to be a big play maker and Neil Smith who's expected to bring the physicality where he racked up over 100 penalty minutes last season.
So far on defense, the team already has a very strong +8 goal differential (24 GF 16 GA) which is a far cry from having the worst GD last season with a -101 (193 GF 294 GA) which was the worst in the league by a pretty sizable margin, as from what we have seen so far, this stat is going to be much much better this year.
One of the players that's going to be under the radar that will have a big season include defensemen James Jernberg who's going to be one of the most physical defensemen on the ice and will be an important part of the special teams where he got all 3 points in the 5-2 win against Arizona.
Speaking of Special Teams, being in the penalty box has been no problem for the team as the team has been a solid 85.37 % on the Penalty Kill. With the exception of the game on October 24 against the Odessa Jackalopes where they gave up 4 PP Goals in a 9-4 loss, this is been a very solid part of their game and they entered the off season looking to improve greatly after being near the bottom on the Penalty Kill last season.
In goal, Mike Brown who's had a great start to the season which included being the leagues goalie of the week during the opening weekend has been rock solid. A shutout against the Wichita Thunder gave them a spring board to early success which also include impressive wins over the Odessa Jackalopes and the Arizona Sundogs. After not having a solid reliable goalie last year, Brown has been off a good start which includes a 3-1-0 record and a 2.33 GAA and a .938% SV.
His backup, Tuomas Lothander has been off a 2-0 start and a 3.12 GAA with him looking to lower that stat as the season goes on and has a .895 SV%. If both goalies can even come close to help them get off to the fast start, they could be a lot of long nights for opponent's this season in Amarillo and across the league.
This is a team that's looking to get back and battle with the elite in the Central Hockey League and with the way they playing so far, they will be roaring up the standings and look to battle with the best in the Southern Conference like the defending champion Texas Brahmas and South Texas Powerhouse Laredo Bucks.
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