It was one of the first true back-and-fourth games at the 8th annual NAHL Blane Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota. But the both the Bulls & Warriors were looking for a strong introduction into the North American Hockey League, after going up 2-0 in the first 11 minutes, the Michigan Warriors responded with goals late in the first and in the opening minute of the 2nd period to tie at 2-2.
After that, it looked like the Michigan Warriors were going to open it up as the Warriors pulled 22 shots on goal in the 2nd period, Mac Height came up big with 21 of 22 saves in the 2nd period. That helped Chris Cass score with 8 minutes left to regain a 3-2 lead.
After going into the 2nd intermission tied at 3-3 after a late goal for Michigan late in the 2nd, both teams played very cautiously in the 3rd period looking not to give up a possible late winner, however it came to Joe Kozlak who scored his 2nd point of the game to give the Bulls a 4-3 win to win the team's first ever game.
It's only one game, but hopefully this can be something that can springboard to big time success this week in Minnesota. They have proven that they have a strong special teams by scoring twice on the PP and killing off some critical penalties.
Michigan Warriors 3 Amarillo Bulls 4 (1-2, 2-1, 0-1)
Press Release from the Amarillo Bulls Website
From Blaine, Minnesota: What a way to start the season for the Amarillo Bulls.
Joe Kozlak jammed home the game winning goal with under 8 minutes remaining in regulation time to lift the Amarillo Bulls past the Michigan Warriors 4-3 in the opening game of the North American Hockey League Showcase, here on Wednesday Morning.
Kozlak's goal was the lone goal in the final 20 minutes as he took a feed from Mitch Rogge and dashed into the Michigan Zone. Luke Jenkins added an assist on the goal. It was an exciting game as both teams skated hard for the entire 60 minutes. Four of the seven goals were scored on the power play. Goaltender Nikifor Szczerba was solid in goal for the Bulls, making 34 saves and keeping Michigan off the board in the final period.
The Bulls penalty killing was put to the test, especially in the third period, killing off a 5-on-3 and later a 5-on-4 in the final two minutes.
The Bulls opened the scoring at the 2:07 mark of the opening period when John Rey fired a loose rebound into the Warriors Net. Dan Sherer and Ryan Taylor earned assists on the goal.
The Bulls made it 2-0 on the power play with Derek Hills wired a slapshot threw a screen from Steven Oberzanik and Joe Kozlak.
The Warriors would battle back to tie the game 2-2 with a goal late in the first period and another to open the 2nd. Amarillo regained the lead when a Derek Hills point shot was tipped by Chris Cass. Cody Freeman had the other assists on the goal. Michigan tied the game again 3-3 with a goal in the final five minutes.
The Michigan Warriors out-shot the Amarillo Bulls 37-23. There were a total of 17 power plays with each team scoring twice.
The Amarillo Bulls return to action in the 2nd day of the NAHL Showcase, when they face the Fresno Monsters. Fans can tune into all the action on ESPN 1440 AM beginning with the pregame show at 8:00 PM. The Face off is at 8:15 PM. The game is also available on pay-per-view courtesy of Fast Hockey; a high speed Internet connection is required in order to watch it.
It's less then two weeks till the home opener of the Amarillo Bulls on Friday, September 24, when they face off against the Texas Tornado at 7:00 PM at the Bull Pen in the Amarillo Civic Center. Season tickets, flex packages and single game tickets are available. For further info, visit www.amarillobulls.com or call the box-office at 806-242-1122.
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