Things are heating up. In Northern California, we can expect it to get really warm in the next few days, the Bulls won a game and something seems to be breaking loose in the NHL CBA talks. This tweet sums that last part up for me:
@TheFourthPeriod: Being told there’s plenty of good traction tonight over CBA. Still a lot of work to be done, but this could move relatively quickly.
We’ll see about that. In the mean time…
The San Francisco Bulls play the Ontario Reign at 7pm tonight. It’s the team’s third game ever, and their first road game. Ontario’s NHL affiliate is the Los Angeles Kings. Ontario led the division at the end of last season but the playoffs weren’t kind to them. Glancing over their roster I noticed a familiar name: Dan DaSilva, previously of the Worcester Sharks.
The Bulls had a good opening weekend. For their first game, they had an enthusiastic crowd at the Cow Palace. They put on a sparkly opening ceremony. I’m not sure the flames flanking the player entry are a practical long-term idea but they certainly made a splash. I wondered if the falling sparklers wouldn’t make little dents in the ice below, but it didn’t seem to be a problem.
The team lost Friday, but finished with a convincing comeback before it ended 4-3 Bakersfield. The recovery was all the more surprising considering the game was slipping out of reach in the second period. After scoring on a penalty shot, Bakersfield scored again twice, putting San Francisco down by three goals going into the third period. Heemskerk made 31 saves in all but the Condors took a whole lot of shots.
I thought it was a very good sign that Friday’s audience stayed until the bitter end, though during a rally like that I would be surprised to see people leaving early. The crowd certainly enjoyed the puck toss during intermission. I’m not sure what the prize was for hitting the bullseye but a whole lot of orange pucks got thrown onto the ice.
The Bulls continued their comeback the next night, again facing the Condors. That game ended better for San Francisco: 6-5 Bulls. Three of those goals came from Friday’s goal scorers: Baker (04:17 1st), Ouellet (00:27 2nd), Guimond (00:50 3rd). The balance of the six came from Carter (03:40 2nd), Bowers (09:20 2nd) and Beauregard (12:14 2nd). Unlike the first night, when the Bulls scrambled to catch up to the Condors on the shot clock, the Bulls ended each period solidly ahead there. By the end of the game, the count was 34-21 Bulls. Sharks prospect Taylor Nelson was in net for the win, making 18 saves.
The Cow Palace looks good. It was never a beautiful structure, but it is sturdy and unpretentious. You have to like the old girl. The Bulls are certainly sprucing her up, with clean new dressing rooms and a gym, some new media space and of course the new scoreboard. The concourse was packed between periods and there’s no shortage of food and beverage. The upstairs restaurant isn’t being used, but it hasn’t been ruled out as a possibility for the future. There’s a beer garden behind the goalie at the visitor’s end. People looked like they were enjoying that.
Whatever the NHL decides to do or whenever they decide to do it, the Bulls deserve some attention from Bay Area hockey fans. Give tonight’s game a listen at KNBR.com. If you want to watch the ECHL’s live game broadcasts on America One, you can buy packages for the whole season, 30 days, or something in between.
(Originally published at Kukla’s Korner.)