The weather outside was frightful. The Butte Roughriders certainly weren't.
The Billings Bulls dropped a 19-1 demolition on Butte thanks to four goals each from Justin Bonanno, Jason Effertz and Ryan Thompson. The 19 goals were a NorPac franchise record, and the victory was the sixth in eight games for the Bulls.
The Bulls picked on winless Butte in every way imaginable. The Bulls primarly attacked the slot in the first period, firing open shot after open shot on Butte netminder Jenson Manning. Less than three minutes in the game, Paul Hoffman found himself four feet directly in front of Manning with all the time in the world to pick his spot. Hoffman wound up and fired a slapshot for the goal.
It was a scene that repeated all night.
The Bulls scored six of their seven goals in the first from around that very spot, then found the back of the net five more times while primarily attacking the net. Most of the Bulls' goals were workmanlike, but Effertz found time to get a little clever, wrapping his third goal of the night around the post from behind backup goalie Jacob Rapier. That put the Bulls up 11-1.
Effertz was all done with his four goals by the time play ended in the second. Bonnano and Thompson added two each in a seven-goal third, with Thompson netting a shorthanded score during the Bulls' only penalty of the night with 19 seconds left.
“We were just playing hard,” said Bonnano, who also had an assist. “We got the bounces and it felt really good for us tonight.”
In 16 games, Butte has scored only 17 goals and has given up an astounding 174 on the short season. Nevertheless, Bulls coach Christ Hartly didn't prepare any differently. “We don't try to overlook (Butte),” Hartly said. “We do try to focus on our next opponent and prepare by working on things and making sure we play our best game.”
The Bulls go from worst to first when they travel to Helena to take on the America West division leading Bighorns tonight. It's another opportunity to prove that the Bulls belong in the top rung of the NorPac.
“We're expecting a hard game,” said defenseman Michael Matthes, who also got in on the fun with a goal and assist of his own. “We need to prove we can put together an entire 60 minutes. We have nothing to lose, (Helena) has everything to lose.”
NOTES: The Bulls broke their league single-game scoring record with their 16th goal, scored by Chace Jackson, who fittingly wears No. 16. ...The previous record was set against the Roughriders last season in a 15-3 victory on New Year's Eve.
Billings 19, Butte 1
Butte 1 0 0 — 1
Billings 7 5 7 — 19
First period — 1, Billings, Hoffman (Albert), 2:47. 2, Billings, Bonanno (Hoffman), 4:12. 3, Billings, Jewell, 6:23. 4, Billings, Effertz (Kantanen), 14:21. 5, Billings, Effertz 2 (Wong, Kantanen), 17:25. 6, Billings, Thompson (Albert, Robillard), 18:31. 7, Billings, Bonanno 2 (Hoffman), 19:00. 8, Butte, Lundberg (Dunn, Goulet), 19:41.
Second period — 9, Billings, Matthes (Bonanno), 2:59 (pp). 10, Billings, McDonald (Thompson, Jewell), 3:17. 11, Billings, Thompson 2 (Jewell, McDonald), 6:02. 12, Billings, Effertz 3 (Kantanen), 12:08. 13, Effertz 4 (Fritts), 17:57.
Third period — 14, Billings, Thompson 3 (McDonald, Robillard), 5:04. 15, Billings, Bonanno 3 (Effertz, Kantanen), 7:00 (pp). 16, Billings, Bonanno 4 (Vant), 7:15. 17, Billings, Jackson 2, 9;11. 18, Billings, McDonald 2 (Jackson), 12:37. 19, Billings, Vant (Jackson, Albert), 14:46. 20, Billings, Thompson 4, 19:41 (sh)
Shots on goal — Butte 6-5-5—16, Billings 29-19-17—65. Power-play Opportunities — Butte 0 of 1. Billings 2 of 2. Penalties — Butte 2 for 4 minutes. Billings 1 for 2 minutes. Goalies — Butte, Manning (29 shots-19 saves), Rapier (36-27). Billings, Fritz (16-15). T — 2:27. A — 133.