The San Francisco Bulls have a lot to be excited about as they wind up their first season. They have built successful partnerships in the Bay Area. They are preparing prospects for their NHL affiliate, the San Jose Sharks, and other teams. Not only will they compete in the playoffs (having clinched Tuesday when Bakersfield lost to Las Vegas), but they have something they didn’t have to start this season: information.
Bulls CEO Angela Batinovich explained that the team’s first season gave them a wealth of data to work with this summer. It makes the end of the season almost as exciting as being in the playoffs:
Our whole staff is really excited to close out the season. We have four or five months in the off-season, we are going to grind every number we have, get all the fan feedback we have, we have surveys, we have so much information we just have to sit and actually figure out what to do with it.
The team launched the season with an impressive marketing campaign. Their video ads are memorable and entertaining, their billboards and radio spots let San Franciscans know they were in town. Some of their video work has gone viral through the hockey community. Their merchandise sold extremely well. Continue reading →
It’s a little like a combination lock being opened, the roster spinning that ECHL and AHL teams will have to do in the next week. The CBA documentation may not be in order yet, but the roster shuffle has started in anticipation of NHL training camps opening this weekend. The SF Bulls’ Andrew Crescenzi and Jamie Devane will be heading back to Toronto tonight. Who else will go? Possibly one, or three more, according to this SF Weekly report. Depends on whether or not the two from Toronto were counter there.
The Worcester Sharks of the AHL have a lot of players out with injuries right now. Off the top of my head: Tim Kennedy is likely to be out for some time. Curt Gogol is still recovering from an ugly hit that resulted in a suspension many have deemed inadequate. I didn’t see it but I’ll believe the reports. Brandon Mashinter did not play in the last game, and a minor injury was mentioned. Defenseman Sena Acolatse was also absent for the last game due to an injury. Bracken Kearns, who did finish the game Sunday, was absent for a bit of that game getting his hand repaired after a fight. So that could be not actually okay. I know I missed someone in there, but the gist of it is that the Sharks’ AHL team has all kinds of players missing right now. NHL training camp can only shorten their bench.
Before the game, I wondered if the Cow Palace audience would get to see a hat trick on Country & Western Night. If they were wearing cowboy hats, this could pose a problem. Cowboy hats are a lot more expensive than ball caps and heavier too. Would people throw them? It was a typical sort of jinx. There was a hat trick, but from Colorado. Joey Sides did score three goals for the Eagles, but it was not enough for them to win. The Bulls managed to score four and they beat the Eagles for the first time.
The Bulls have had trouble winning when they don’t score first. They did it once before, back on November 9: Stockton scored first only to be taken apart for the rest of the game until it ended 4-1. My memory of that is so hazy, the lack of multiple game recaps and no video for me to review is maddening. How could I have not noticed the team winning without scoring first? I have concluded that it must have been a fluky goal so strange that it failed to break the “score first or lose” curse. Maybe it was off a Bulls player or even an own goal, though the recap from Stockton did not make it seem so.
In any case, the Bulls have had a whole lot of trouble winning games when they don’t score first. They have had as much trouble scoring at all against Colorado. Wednesday’s game showed a glimmer of hope, but still ended in a shootout loss. So this is the mountain they had to climb, with omens casting shadows on the ice.
Last night, the San Francisco Bulls beat the Stockton Thunder 4-3 in overtime. It was their fourth of four games at home, the first of three games in three nights, the second and third to be played in Ontario and Bakersfield.
New things seen at last night’s game: The Cube can be broken, and repaired quickly. A shot from I’m not sure who in the first period went too high and hit the board right in the period number. A panel was knocked loose but was as easily fixed during intermission.
Also new: Peter Sivak moved to the line with Justin Bowers and Dean Ouellet, and Jordan Morrison centered both Sharks forward prospects Marek Viedensky and Daniil Tarasov. That second line scored the first goal of the game, credited to Tarasov, with the assist to Viedensky.
Neither the SF Bulls nor the Worcester Sharks showed up on the transaction lists today, or since the December 1 recall of Mikael Tam to the AHL.
Daniil Tarasov did end up starting on a line with Justin Bowers and Dean Ouellet for Wednesday’s game. That worked out well and quickly, as he scored the first goal less than five minutes into the game. Assists went to Bowers and defenseman Scott Langdon. The Bulls went on to roll over Bakersfield for a final score of 4-1. Two of the Bulls’ goals came from Peter Sivak, the first on a power play in the first, assists to Viedensky and Tarasov. His second was scored at even strength in the second, assist to Alex Tuckerman. The fourth Bulls goal was scored by Dean Ouellet in the third, assists to Bowers and Tarasov.
It was a big win. It didn’t clinch a playoff spot, it wasn’t their first win ever, but it was a big win. It was the first time the team won three in a row, and their first win against the Reign. It was a chance for the team to take a significant lead, hang on to it and build it to a final score of 5-1. It was a big win for the Bulls, and it was a win for Pat Curcio and his roster overhaul.
I felt sort of badly for writing about the 7-0 Bulls loss a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t seem fair to cover that game in such detail, and say so little about them after that. But that was the game I went to. By Friday night, the team looked completely different. If you had told me that replacing half of the players in the space of two weeks would result in a consistent and almost shocking improvement, I would not have believed you. I’m a believer in slow-growth chemistry. You don’t just throw guys together and they all know what to do, not outside of Hollywood disaster films.