Home at Last, Bulls Win Two In a Row

IH-Judson

(Originally published at Inside Hockey)

The San Francisco Bulls finally came home to the Cow Palace last Friday, and won their home opener against the Bakersfield Condors 2-1. It wasn’t clear which the team needed more, a third win on the season or a home game. Opening night brought Dean Ouellet’s first goal of the season, and Kyle Bigos picked up his first pro goal as the game winner. That game was a confidence booster, though played against a team that had yet to win this season. Continue reading

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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

SF Bulls Start Season On Familiar Ground

The San Francisco Bulls start the 2013-14 season on the road, against the Alaska Aces. Their preseason ended in three losses, including one shootout loss. Preseason games don’t tell you a great deal about how a team will perform in the regular season, but the Bulls’ two exhibition games at the Cow Palace were worth a look. New forward Ryan McDonough gave his assessment:

At the end we didn’t get the result we wanted but it is preseason and we’re just getting everything together so I think we’re moving forward pretty well.

In the Bulls’ first game, against the Bakersfield Condors, most of the faces on the ice were unfamiliar to fans. Head Coach Pat Curcio wanted to see as many players in a game setting as possible: 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

SF Bulls Are Getting the Job Done

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