AMARILLO, TX – The Wichita Falls Warriors (24-14-1-6) dropped game one of the three game weekend series and were looking to bounce back on Saturday night, knowing that one win would clinch them a playoff spot in their inaugural season. Meanwhile, the Amarillo Bulls (25-13-3-5) looked to take advantage of home ice again, which they have struggled to do against the Warriors this season.
The first period would end up scoreless, as even in night two of the series each side was still trying to feel out their opponent. In the second period, the Warriors would break open the scoring when Joseph Harguindeguy (16) created a turnover below the offensive goal-line and found Dominick Rivelli (4) all alone in the slot to give the Warriors the 1-0 lead. The Warriors would add to their lead three minutes later off another forced turnover. This time, William Lawson-Body dove at the defensive blue-line to deflect the Amarillo cross pass, and the deflection pushed the puck forward to PJ Neal who was in just his second game with the Warriors. Neal would take a couple strides into the zone a rip a shot inside the right post for his first career North American Hockey League goal and the Warriors were up 2-0. The Warriors would score their third straight of the period, this time on the power play with Adisen Brueck (10) deflecting it up and over the left shoulder of Bull goaltender Cullen DeYoung to extend the Warriors lead to three goal heading to the third period.
In the third, the Warriors would add one more off the stick of Hunter Jones (6) after a nice take and set up by Nick Lanigan (7). Owen Bartoszkiewicz stopped all 29 shots that he faced in net for the Warriors, recording his sixth shutout of the season in a 4-0 win.
With the win, the Warriors clinched the final playoff spot in the South Division in just their first season as a team in the league.
The Warriors looked to follow up their playoff clinching win with another big win on Sunday afternoon to take third place and jump the Bulls in the standings.
The Warriors would strike early, netting back to back power play goals in the firs 5:30 into the first period. First, it was Drake Usher (6) who’s one-timer put the Warriors up 1-0. Then, just 18 seconds later, Hunter Jones (14) found Thomas Weis (17) right in front of the net and the deflection gave the Warriors a quick 2-0 lead on two straight power play tallies. The Bulls would answer back with a late score at the end of the first and the Warriors lead was cut down to one heading to the first intermission.
In the second, the Warriors would get back into the offensive zone and get back to work. The Warriors would strike again 3:26 into the period, as Jeffrey Bertrand would score his first goal of the season in just his third game back from injury and the Warriors were back up by two at 3-1. Then, the Warriors would go back to the power play where they would convert for a third straight time, with Drew Vieten (18) scoring right in front and extending the lead to 4-1. After that, the Bulls would take over the game. Amarillo would score four straight unanswered goal to come back and top the Warriors 5-4. The Warriors would leave Amarillo after three games with two points and a playoff birth.