It was déjà vu all over again when the Lone Star Brahmas traveled to Amarillo for a two-game series at the Budweiser Bullpen.
Just like last weekend at NYTEX Sports Centre these two teams split the weekend series. Amarillo came up short 4-2 on Friday night, however, rallied back for a 2-0 shutout on Saturday thanks to a terrific performance by goalie Carter Clafton. The Wranglers are now 21-17-2-1 with 45 points just six points behind the New Mexico Ice Wolves (24-16-2-1, 51 points), who travel to the Budweiser bullpen for two important games against the Wranglers on Friday and Saturday.
Amarillo stampeded into the Friday night affair hungry to avenge its most recent loss against the Brahmas. The Wranglers kicked off the scoring when fan favorite forward Zach Kent scored his third goal of the season after receiving a beautiful no look dish from Jack Ivy. After tying the contest, Lone Star pulled ahead with two goals to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission. At the 14:53 mark of the second period Wranglers “blue liner” and West Point commit Pierce Patterson hit a one-timer to make it interesting, but the rally fell short as Amarillo fell, 4-2.
The Wranglers came into Saturday night’s affair in a must win situation. The first period was a defensive classic where both goalies had their heads on a swivel. After a scoreless first period, Amarillo got on the board at the 11:26 mark of the second period thanks to defenseman Rihard Simanovics, who was fresh off the North American Hockey League’s Prospects Tournament. Simanovics went top shelf from the point to put the Wranglers on the board in this defensive struggle. In the third period, and the Wranglers still leading 1-0, the chippy and chirpiness continued at a very high level. With close to two minutes left in the game Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong pulled arguably the best goalie in the NAHL, Arthur Smith (13-4-0-2 with a 1.50 GAA). With an empty net and an extra a skater, the Brahmas were not able to score. Amarillo Wranglers forward, and West Point commit Jack Ivy put a little salt in the wound to score an empty netter for his ninth goal of the season. Clifton earned the hard fought shutout for his second of the season.
The Wranglers are six points behind the New Mexico Ice Wolves for the fourth and final playoff spot in the NAHL South Division with 19 games to play. The Ice Wolves will be in Amarillo to open a weekend series on Friday. Please watch for Tommy Tee’s weekly Wranglers update and also catch Tommy at 5 p.m. Thursday evenings on the “Drive at Five” with a Lance Lahnert on the Panhandle Sports Star (102.9-F.M.)