Changes to the Bulls’ roster seem to be the norm right now. Since last week’s moves, Bulls’ forward Kris Belan was called up by the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs. Tuesday, the Bulls released forward Colin Reddin, and he was signed by the Evansville IceMen the same day. That left room for two, but only one has arrived: Yanni Gourde, from the Worcester Sharks. Gourde is the third player added to the team since the Bulls set out on their six-game road trip.
Tuesday night, Head Coach Pat Curcio put Gourde on a line with Dean Ouellet and Peter Sivak. Though Gourde had just arrived late the night before, he played very well on the top line.
After a spectacular performance during his last in juniors, Gourde was playing his first professional season with the Worcester Sharks. He has been unspectacular there, as his stats show. Some Worcester Sharks watchers shared their observations about him via Twitter:
@Jon_Allred:… he started good but hasn’t done much lately. I [don’t know] if he’s not used to the pro game or if it’s mental…
@stalockrox:…Very tentative and uncomfortable/unsure. This should be a good move for him much like it was for Tarasov.
Gourde didn’t take long to start contributing to the Bulls’ game, earning a point and playing well on the power play Tuesday. Despite having only 11 points in 44 AHL games this season, he certainly knows something about the pro game by now.
Alex Tuckerman and Martin Lee were both in the lineup for the Utah Grizzlies. Jason Lockhart spoke with Tuckerman a couple of hours before the game. Tuckerman talked about being traded for the first time in his career, and how he’s been received in Utah:
I got a big welcome when I got here and it’s been great ever since…
It takes you a while to meet all the guys and I guess to get to know everyone at a family level. Because that’s what you want to do as a hockey team, you want to know everyone on a brother level… it always takes a little time to earn everyone’s respect. It’s been pretty quick, quicker than I thought it would be.
Tuckerman went on to explain that having Martin Lee traded with him to Utah made the transition a little easier, as did knowing one of the Utah players from college.
Ex-Bulls and ex-Grizzlies had to put their past allegiance aside for the game.
In the first period, the teams stayed remarkably close in all respects. While the Grizzlies ended with an advantage in shots on goal, the difference wasn’t more than three between them through the period. With no penalties for either team, the period came to an end tied at 0.
The game’s first goal came at 1:57 of the second period. It was from Dean Ouellet off a patiently delayed feed from Gourde .
Four seconds later, Utah’s Tommy Maxwell took a hooking penalty. The Bulls held the Grizzlies in the zone for a minute and a half before the Grizzlies were able to clear the puck but San Francisco couldn’t add to their lead.
As Maxwell exited the box, he had a near breakaway that gave the Bulls a scare as the Grizzlies descended on Taylor Nelson, but a wide shot broke that up.
Some minutes later, Nelson had an even greater challenge as two Grizzlies got behind the Bulls’ defense and had a two on none chance. Nelson managed to keep the puck out of the net.
The penalties came rolling in during the second period. Penalties neutralized power plays, doubled up, and still failed to change the score.
The Bulls took a penalty for having too many men on the ice with 2:11 remaining in the second. A penalty killing unit of Dean Ouellet, Jordan Morrison, Simon Danis-Pepin and Dylan King were trapped on the ice for most of it. In the final seconds of the kill, Morrison carried the puck out with Dean Ouellet in a short handed rush, despite being at the end of a very long shift. They didn’t score, but did give the other penalty killers a chance to get off the ice. Such are the responsibilities of wearing an A.
The Bulls ended the second period still up by 1, but had been outshot 17-9.
Early in the third, on a delayed penalty, the Grizzlies almost scored in their own empty net when a pass to the point got through. The near miss for Utah was ironic, as San Francisco’s Daniil Tarasov had scored such a goal, clearing the puck all the way around the boards on a delayed penalty against the Grizzlies, back on November 30.
The delayed penalty was on Dean Ouellet. Just 62 seconds into that, Simon Danis-Pepin was called for cross-checking David Eddy behind the net. Eddy was helped off the ice by a Grizzlies’ trainer.
The Grizzlies didn’t need all 58 seconds of five on three to tie the game during a scramble in front of the net.
The Bulls were much more aggressive during the five on four, clearing the puck twice and pestering the Grizzlies well through the neutral zone.
Sloppy play on the part of both teams in the neutral zone resulted in several intercepted passes, and ended finally with a breakaway for on of the Grizzlies. Taylor Nelson gloved the slapshot from the circle to keep the game tied.
In the last minutes of the game, the Grizzlies broke out of their end quickly and flew through the neutral zone. A quick shot from above the circle was just slightly deflected through traffic to beat Nelson and give the Grizzlies the lead with only 2:01 left.
The Bulls quickly gained the zone, but even with an extra attacker and several chances, they couldn’t beat Utah’s goaltender Adam Robinson again. It was just the second time this season that Bulls failed to pick up a point when leading after the second period.
The Bulls play again Wednesday in Colorado at 6:05 PST.
San Francisco’s goal was scored by Dean Ouellet(24)(Gourde, Sivak). Taylor Nelson made 40 saves for the Bulls. The Bulls power play was 0/2, their penalty kill 3/4.
Utah goals were scored by Patterson(4)(PPG Falite, Tuzzolino), and Patterson(5)(Estoclet, Lee). Adam Morrison made 24 saves for the win.
(Originally published at Inside Hockey)