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 →
The Bulls played their last home game for February Sunday afternoon. They fell 3-1 to Stockton, San Francisco’s second loss in two nights to the Thunder.
A disappointing performance the night before left San Francisco with nothing to show but 73 penalty minutes, most of which were earned in a ten man brawl late in the third period. The 4-0 loss was unexpected, especially after San Francisco’s surprising and hard-fought win in Idaho on Wednesday. Stockton, bolstered by some new talent in their lineup, outplayed the Bulls from the start, keeping them off the score board and staying well ahead on the shot clock. The Bulls lost board battles and spent too much of the game trying to gain or retain possession of the puck. After Stockton took a four goal lead, head coach Pat Curcio pulled his starting goalie, Taylor Nelson, and replaced him with Thomas Heemskerk. Heemskerk saved all 22 shots he faced.
Sunday, Thomas Heemskerk started in goal, facing Tyler Bunz for Stockton. San Francisco’s Kris Belan and Stockton’s Ryan Green started things off with a fight at 1:42.
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.
For me, Friday’s Bulls game started with a long drive through the rain. This demonstration of diligence and commitment is less impressive if you know that I had a thrilling Worcester Sharks game to listen to on the way. No hardship there. It was probably exactly the sort of game I would never want to watch (I think they may have broken some season penalty minute records, could hardly go five minutes without a fight. I believe Frazer McLaren alone racked up 27 minutes before being excused.) Still, the back and forth scoring and right up to the last second suspense made for a great listen.
SF Bulls defenseman Sacha Guimond has gone back to Canada. This tweet from Simon Danis-Pepin sat there in my Twitter timeline for days:
@Simon_D_Pepin: “Having a good hangout with @Guimond15 before he heads north. Feel like my son is going away to college. #lesbulls #ledream”
I couldn’t get anyone to explain it on Twitter, and I couldn’t get to the city to ask someone about it. All I could get before the game was that Guimond was, in fact, going back to college in Canada. That was sort of anti-climactic. Guimond’s official status would remain a mystery until after Friday’s game. At that point I learned that his status isn’t officially official, there is a possibility he will return but the forces of a scholarship are against it. He needs to enroll very soon or give up a hefty educational opportunity.
Last night, the Sharks’ ECHL affiliates, past and present, met in San Jose. They have met before, many times, but this was a new experience for both of them.
It was bound to happen, the Stockton Thunder was unlikely to keep losing to the San Francisco Bulls. When two teams meet as often as these do, they will figure each other out and the team that has lost the first three matches will probably find a way to win one. The teams will have a chance to get to know each other even better- they have nine more games to play. It’s just too bad for the Bulls that their first loss to Stockton happened in San Jose. The final score was 6-4 Stockton.
The Bulls had a day to rest after a quick but rough road trip. From Thursday’s OT win against Stockton, they rode to Ontario to be brutally defeated Friday, then drove back north to Bakersfield to win handily Saturday night. Continue reading →
The SF Bulls have won three of their last four games. They started the season with only two wins in their first ten. Of the eight after that, they’ve won four. I asked Pat Curcio what changed. He attributed the improvement partly to the fact that a new young team “takes some time to get accustomed.” He also mentioned the latest round of roster moves:
“We wanted to be a young team, hard-working and ready to go to the next level. We made some moves that I thought were best for the team and so far so good.”
Some comments floated around Twitter that echoed my own reaction to the high number of trades, releases and additions. On any given day there will be a good sized list of moves on the ECHL Transactions page. There are many factors at work here, and not only during a lockout. An ECHL team is limited to 20 active players and 2 on reserve, with an unlimited number on 21 day injured reserve. Any move will probably require a second. Curcio explained why the Bulls have made 14 moves in the last two weeks: