Bulls at Home After Successful Road Trip

(Originally published at Inside Hockey)

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The San Francisco Bulls return to home ice tonight after earning seven points in a five game road trip. The trip started with a win in Utah and included a 4-1 defeat of the Division-leading Ontario Reign. The Bulls finished the trip with a 6-2 win in Las Vegas.

Before hitting the road, the team played the Bakersfield Condors twice in a row. They lost the second of those 5-2, at home, after winning 5-1 in Bakersfield the night before. After the loss, Bulls Captain Scott Langdon was downcast by his team’s inability to play a consistent 60 minutes. The Bakersfield Condors were more ready for the Bulls, after being so badly beaten on their home ice the night before. Langdon pointed out that Bakersfield is probably always ready for the Bulls: Continue reading

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Bulls Break Loose, Beat Wranglers

The San Francisco Bulls were ready to win Sunday.  They had lost three in a row at home, and the night before they lost 6-2 to the Alaska Aces.  Good as the Aces are, the Bulls had never lost by more than three to them.  The Bulls had only beaten Las Vegas once before, and they’d lost by bigger margins to the Wranglers, including a 5-0 shutout.  Las Vegas wouldn’t be a push over, but the Bulls were due for a win and they took it.

In Saturday’s loss to Alaska, the Bulls started well, just as they had in the previous two games.  The Aces scored first, but the Bulls got it back less than two minutes later.  It wasn’t until the last minute of the first period that Alaska took the lead again, on a power play.  By then, the shot clock read 15-6 Aces. Continue reading

The Bulls Lose a Weekend in Vegas

The San Francisco Bulls lost both games in Las Vegas this weekend.  The team took too many penalties and were outshot in both games.  Friday, they lost 2-1, and despite a good push in the third period, were outshot 24-22.  Instead of improving on Sunday, the Bulls lost 6-2 and were outshot 46-28.  It was a disappointing end to a long road trip in which the Bulls only picked up four points in six games.

The Friday game started out well.  At the tail end of the Bulls’ first penalty kill, Yanni Gourde gave the Bulls a lead with a short-handed goal. It would be their only goal of the night, but far from their last penalty. In all, the Bulls were short-handed six times.

Las Vegas tied the game during an extended penalty that resulted from a boarding major assigned defenseman Mikael Tam.  Matching double roughing minors were assigned at the same time to Dylan King and the Wranglers’ Andrew Sarauer. That left the Bulls to kill four of the five minutes down two defensemen.  They were three seconds shy of killing the five minute major off when Sean Wiles scored. Continue reading

Las Vegas wrangles Bulls, shuts out San Francisco 5-0

It took them more than eight seconds.  It took the Wranglers about nine minutes to tie the Bulls down with two goals. Even with two periods left to play, the Bulls never managed to shake those early goals off their backs.   The Bulls loss was also Las Vegas goalie Jody O’Neill’s first professional shut out in his first professional start. He played twice before as a pro, once for the Trenton Titans and once for the Stockton Thunder, both times in relief.  Where did this guy come from, in hockey terms?  Dartmouth College.

The Bulls started the first period with a couple of minutes almost completely in the Wranglers’ zone.  Play balanced out after that, and after not many shots from either team, Vegas scored.  The Bulls got a power play as Sean Wiles took a boarding penalty.  The Wranglers penalty kill did a good job of forcing the Bulls all the way back down the ice.  Just as the Bulls were finally getting set up, a fumbled pass gave Andrew Sarauer a short handed chance that he buried.

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Last games of 2012

There are games going on today in the AHL, and the Worcester Sharks will be in one of them.  They play tonight at 7 EST against the Monarchs.  The Worcester Sharks’ Friday game got some attention for suspense and spectacle, with the highlight goal from James Sheppard and the tenacity of Matsumoto to keep after that game winner.  But  their Saturday game was memorable too, with Mashinter scoring after a very long dry spell, and a game winner on top of it.  Unfortunately, Sena Acolatse is likely to be out for some time, after being injured in that game.

The Bulls’ last game of the year rivaled the season opener for attendance (8,000+), and they won handily to boot.  The Bulls owed Vegas one, after that regrettable visit to Nevada last month. That was a close game but it shouldn’t have been.  With Scott Langdon back in the lineup, the team grabbed an early lead and went on to win 4-1.  Hans Benson was also back, and he left a mark or two on the game. Speaking of back in the lineup, or the lineup in general:

@Guimond15: “Flying all night ! Back in san francisco tomorrow #freshmind #misstheboys #playoffhockeynow”

I noticed this little stat in Paul Gackle’s pregame report:

Guimond is tied with Denny Urban of the Reading Royals for most points (25) scored by an ECHL defenseman this season. He also leads the team with 18 power play points (five goals, 13 assists).

……..More

Those numbers could be a little out of date now since Urban was playing while Guimond was not, but it finally sank in for me that Urban has been called up twice by Worcester to help fill in on their injured blue line. Will Guimond get that same chance soon?  Is it worth forgoing college for that chance? That’s the gamble.  Best of luck to Guimond, and congrats on his return to the Bulls and their fans.

Add to the Return of Guimond the arrival of Torrey Mitchell and the Bulls seem to be bulking up.  I never thought I would  think of Mitchell as bulk, but there you have it.   I guess it’s a figurative bulking up, not so much a matter of mass.

It reminds me of what Curcio said even before he signed a single player, when his roster was just a notion.  He said he wanted youth, speed, skill.  Sure, whodoesn’t, right?  But I wondered how far that would get an ECHL team, assuming Curcio could really find many guys to fit that bill.  My preconceptions about the ECHL last year have faded somewhat but Curcio does seem to have built a team that meets those requirements.   More surprising, I guess, for an NHL fan, is the fact that the team isn’t out of place in the league.  It shouldn’t be a surprise, of course.  If the ECHL feeds the AHL, and the AHL feeds the NHL, all the changes that we have seen in the NHL must trickle down.  Or maybe I should say they seep up.  From safety measures to style of play, the development leagues don’t just train players.  This is where the changes to the game really take place.

I like it.  The Bulls games I’ve watched hardly ever look like that one misleading Idaho @ Stockton game I went to a couple seasons ago.  That game was so marred by the kicking incident that it was hard to pay attention to much else.  I haven’t seen anything like that at a Bulls game, but then I haven’t seen them play Idaho either.

So all that looks good.  Mitchell should help the team out a lot, especially with Viedensky on IR.  With Guimond and Langdon back, and the team tied for sixth, this may indeed lead to playoff hockey, whatever happens with the NHL.

Which is what we’re still waiting for, a resolution to the NHL lockout.  Will Mitchell play more than a couple of games with the Bulls?  Will he finish the season with them?

This is why I don’t wait for people any more.  I used to wait for someone to go with me, whether it was to a movie or another country or the zoo.  I used to think of doing things I wanted to do as part of spending quality time with others and all that nice sociable stuff, but after missing out on one too many events and chewing on the bitterness of being “robbed” of the experience by someone else… well, I decided no more, I would just go.  I would stop being angry with people for not wanting to do what I wanted to do.

And yet here I am again, waiting on, of all things, the NHL and the NHLPA to tell me what the heck their plans are for the rest of the winter and spring.

Why?  After all of my talk of having plenty of other hockey to watch and follow, after all my “I don’t care, you NHL idiots can do what you want to do,” why would I even WANT to wait for this bunch of jerks?  They would probably walk too slowly, dawdle over their meals, window shop and spend too long fixing their hair in the morning.  No, clearly the CBA negotiators are not the sort of people I want to wait for.

But here’s the thing: I have this idea that I want to go see hockey in a new place.  I can do that, sure, no matter what the NHL does.  Even if they started tomorrow or never started again, there would still be hockey in Helsinki, Bratislava, Davos, all kinds of places I would like to go and have never been.  There would even be hockey in Oulou, and though I can’t figure out how the heck to get to Oulou, there will be hockey there.

I am so ashamed.  Despite the abuse we have all suffered at the hands of that organization, literal and figurative, I have this frustrating, embarrassing, lingering interest in it.  Maybe Bratislava is really nice and I should just go hang out there for a while.  Maybe there’s no need to go rushing off to Helsinki too, and no excuse to go back to Prague since my mission is go somewhere I haven’t been unless there is something very enticing somewhere I have been before.

Every few thought cycles, I wish I had gone sooner. I forget that finances for me are a deciduous tree.  I’m not like these people I am waiting for, I can’t just pick up and go on a few days notice.  Notice is important if your home notices your absence and you need to ask for help taking care of things while you’re gone.  You know, the

And so I wait, and yes, I’m getting angrier by the day about waiting.  At this rate, I could end up in New Zealand.  At least that would remove the question of when or where locked-out NHLers are playing. way most people who are not millionaires do.

(Originally published at Kukla’s Korner)

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SF Bulls in Vegas tonight

The Bulls play the Las Vegas Wranglers tonight.  It’s been four days since the Bulls’ last game.  Such breaks are fairly common in the ECHL.  Pat Curcio explained how the team handles that:

“The biggest thing for us is we want to stick to the plan.  We want to make sure we’re working as hard as we can.  Win or lose… push a little harder when you’ve got an extra day or two.”

This break is noteworthy because it is the first to follow a winning streak for the Bulls:

@Clendenning49: 4s gotta be a winning streak, Rollin.. @SFBulls @k_belan43 @1986jmorrison

I usually call it a streak at three but certainly four works too.  It’s another test for the Bulls: will the break make a difference?  I can feel the suspense building.

The Bulls penalty kill has been very effective lately.  Curcio credits both players and planners for this:

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