After their last meeting, there was reason to doubt the San Francisco Bulls’ chances against the Ontario Reign. During the first 8 minutes, the Bulls didn’t spend a lot of time outside their end of the ice. That turned out to be the case for most of the game. Thomas Heemskerk wasn’t going to have an easy time of it in his second game in two nights. To his credit, he held up better than the rest of the team.
The first penalty was booed roundly before being announced, a tripping penalty against the Bulls’ Clendenning. The Bulls killed that off and celebrated with a brief offensive rush, only to be pushed back again. The Bulls didn’t give the Reign a lot of room to set up their offense, but they couldn’t organize an attack of their own. Frantic passes off the glass went to opposing players, missed passes turned to icing.
With half of the first period gone, the Bulls only had one shot to the Reign’s 7. The Reign scored two goals, just over 30 seconds apart. The Bulls took another penalty and killed it off but didn’t manage to get another short until the second period.
The second started better for the Bulls. Faceoffs clustered in the Reign’s zone. The Bulls looked stronger, but it didn’t take the Reign long to push back. Four minutes in, and the Bulls seemed trapped in the defensive zone yet again. They managed their third shot four and a half minutes in. Berube held on to it.
The next couple of minutes were pretty back and forth, and despite the shot count being 18-3, the teams were tied for the period. Then the Bulls were penalized for too many men on the ice. Chris Lawrence served it. The Bulls managed a short-handed attempt at the tail end of that kill. They couldn’t stay in the Reign’s end long enough to get some help from Lawrence on his way out of the box, but they did kill the penalty off.
The illusion of balance did not last. The Reign scored their third with the Bulls still stuck on three shots. Jason Beeman got credit for that. Seconds later, Theo Peckham went to the box to give the Bulls a little more time on the penalty kill. If the Bulls’ penalty kill were a horse, I’d say they were in danger of working it to death. Luckily, there are more than four legs on the Bulls penalty kill, so they mustered on.
I wonder if any ref ever has seen a player throw up his hands in the “I didn’t do anything” signal and thought “oh, well, that’s okay then.” With about four and a half minutes left in the second period, a Bulls player threw up his hands but evidently the ref didn’t catch whatever he was denying having done. The Bulls ended up with a power play but didn’t seem sure what to do with it.
The problem with repeating the same task over and over is that it’s hard to change gears. Your power play may end up looking a little like a penalty kill.
The Bulls didn’t seem slow, they didn’t seem grossly out of position. They were just a touch off, again and again, a pass just missed, a puck just taken away.
The outlook at the start of the third was grim. The score 3-0, the shots 32-4. On the positive side, the audience was still in their seats, and they cheered when asked to do so. The Bulls put on a good show, the sound system lives up to its reputation, people enjoy the intermission activities. The Chuck a Puck game continues to be popular.
The Bulls drew a penalty 59 seconds into the period, a holding the stick penalty to Eric Springer. The Bulls seemed a little more confident on this power play, more successful passes, fewer pucks bouncing over sticks, but no goal. The improved composure continued for a little while after the penalty expired.
It’s difficult for me to pinpoint why I notice certain players. Jordan Morrison got my attention in the first game and at the start of this one too. He just seems to be going the right way at a good clip whenever I see him. Maybe I just see him a lot because he’s a regular on the penalty kill. Tonight, defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin warranted watching, not only because he is so large. He also played with authority, seemed in control of his space. It didn’t make much difference in the game, the team was in such disarray.
I was surprised, though not at all disappointed, to see no fights as of the 13:02 mark of the third. I would rather the players keep trying to get their game under control without pulling the hand break. Maybe I’m a different kind of sadist.
Almost seven minutes into the third, the Bulls were killing another penalty. I started to wonder who on the team had not taken a penalty, aside from Heemskerk.
In an ominous lapse of penalty killing attention, the Bulls left Brodie Sheehan alone in front of the goal, but Heemskerk did manage to stop it from going over his glove. The Bulls’ penalty kill seemed to unravel from there.
As the inspirational speech on the Cube, the Bulls media folk chose John Belushi in Animal House, talking about Germans bombing Pearl Harbor and the tough getting going. The audience seemed happy enough to cheer and the shirtless lettermen got some screen time.
The next Bulls penalty went to Kelsey Wilson. That was a 10 minute misconduct and a double minor for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct, with 10:15 left. The Reign shortened the four minutes by scoring before the first penalty ended.
The Reign took the dread five goal lead… oh, I guess that’s not a thing… with 4:15 left in the game. The audience did start to leave, and that’s when the game’s first fight broke out. It didn’t last long and I won’t peg a winner. The Bulls’ Clendenning lost his jersey, the Reign’s Clune didn’t. Since there were fewer than 5 minutes left, the game misconduct for Clendenning’s jersey was moot.
That would have meant Clendenning took the game’s first penalty and its last, even if he didn’t leave the team short handed the second time. It would have meant that but, with just over three minutes left, Andrew Crescenzi, recently assigned from the Marlies, went to the box. Scott Langdon joined him there. Their offenses were cross-checking and roughing respectively. That left the Bulls down by two men very briefly. It was brief because it didn’t take Ontario long to score. Devin Setoguchi did that.
The Bulls didn’t have to finish the other kill either. The Reign made it 7-0. Thomas Heemskerk faced 47 shots. Berube may or may not be difficult for the Bulls to beat, but it is hard to say since he only saw 9 shots in the game.
Attendance was announced as 4,517 pushing it over 10,000 for the weekend. This Saturday was better than the first Saturday. It seems unfair that this is only the team’s fourth home game. They hit the road again this week, playing in Ontario on Wednesday.
As for Ryane Clowe, he was behind the bench. An interview during the game bears some scrutiny, but I’m still trying to come up with a link to it.