Slow Starts Cost Bulls Against Aces

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(Originally published at Inside Hockey)

The Alaska Aces may not be the runaway ECHL points leaders they were last season, but they still occupy a special, dark place in the hearts of the San Francisco Bulls and their fans. Last weekend’s trio of games at the Cow Palace did little to change that. Despite a stunning comeback from the Bulls in the middle game, the Bulls only earned two points in three games. Continue reading

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SF Bulls Looking More Confident

San Francisco Bulls’ Head Coach Pat Curcio was pleased with the way his team looked before their third game last Wednesday:

I like the way the guys are bouncing, I like the way they’ve practiced in the last few days. -Bulls’ Pre-game report

The team did look good in Idaho, and bounces have certainly been a factor in their season so far. After a theft of a win in their first game of the season, the Bulls came down to earth with a thud in game two. Their third game of the season showed the team improving, becoming more consistent and more confident. Their record is a pretty good reflection of their progress: a lucky win, a bad loss and an overtime loss. By the time the Bulls return to San Francisco, fans could be in for a treat. Continue reading

Aces Shut the Bulls Down 5-0

The Alaska Aces made the San Francisco Bulls pay dearly for ruining their home opener, beating the Bulls 5-0 on Saturday. It is hard to tell from the score, but the Bulls did show signs that they were working better as a team, leaving fewer gaping holes on defense.

The Bulls went in to their second game in Alaska without Dean Ouellet, who was described as having a non-specific upper body injury. If the team was thrown by that development, it didn’t show as they started the game with more composure in the defensive zone than they displayed in the first game. Despite taking too many penalties and giving up more goals than in the previous game, the team actually had more chances and showed signs of improvement. Continue reading

Bulls First Post-Season Ends at Home

The San Francisco Bulls ended their first year, as they started it, in home whites. After the game, the Zamboni cleaned the ice and the lights dimmed with a loud click over the rink at the Cow Palace.  The Bulls had earned three home games beyond the regular season, but the end still felt sudden and harsh. Fresh off the final loss, Bulls Alternate Captain Dean Ouellet summed up the bittersweet season:

I think the boys battled hard all season. We had lots of ups and downs, I think the guys pulled it together in the playoffs, the guys worked hard. Unfortunately we came up short, but I’m proud of the guys’ effort for sure.

It was not unlike the last time the Aces came to San Francisco and won three games in a row. Two of the games were close, one was not. Close or not, the Aces won all three, ending the Bulls’ first post-season run. It was not a bad showing for the eighth seed against the top seed, a Bulls team with nine rookies in the lineup to the Aces’ four. By Game Four, the Bulls were out of spare players, with Daulton Leveille, Tommy Grant, and Tristan King all injured after the playoff rosters were due. Continue reading

Bulls vs Aces: WCQF Game 3 Preview

The ECHL’s Kelly Cup Quarter Finals resume tonight for the San Francisco Bulls and the Alaska Aces. It will be the first of three playoff games in three days at the Cow Palace. The series is tied 1-1 after two games in Alaska.

The Aces ended the regular season as the top team in the ECHL. Bulls Head Coach Pat Curcio described some of the things that make Alaska such a dangerous opponent:

Obviously their goaltending is exceptional. They’ve been the best in the league, they’ve won championships and of course from the defense out they’ve got great players. You don’t do what [they’ve done] without the players and the horses to do so.

Gerald Coleman was in goal for Alaska in the first two games of this series. Coleman was ranked second in GAA this season, has played in the last three post-seasons, twice with Alaska. In 32 games this season, he finished with a GAA of 2.17, a save percentage of .918, and 23 wins. Continue reading

The Bulls Back at Home for Playoffs

The San Francisco Bulls are back at the Cow Palace. Their first post-season run will resume on Thursday. They lost Game One last Friday to the Alaska Aces by a score of 5-1. They tied the series the next day by winning 1-0.

Kris Belan scored Friday’s goal short-handed. Kory Falite scored the game winner on Saturday, with assists to Brett Findlay and Dean Ouellet. Except for Falite’s, all of those points went to players in their first professional playoff series. Bulls goalie Thomas Heemskerk, who was replaced by Taylor Nelson during Friday’s loss, recorded a shutout in Saturday’s win. This is his first professional post-season too.

For a team that just wrapped up its first regular season, newness is hardly new, but these are the playoffs: Continue reading