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 Make 4 Goal Comeback Against Stockton Thunder

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(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)

SAN FRANCISCO-Saturday, the San Francisco Bulls came back from a three-goal deficit to defeat the Stockton Thunder in a shootout. It was the third meeting of the season for the two teams. The first period ended tied at one, the second period ended 4-2. The teams went to a shootout tied at five goals apiece. Two of the Bulls’ goals were scored by Steven Tarasuk, his first two goals of the season. Also, there were teddy bears, lots of teddy bears tossed on the ice. Continue reading

Bulls Off The Schneid, Beat Condors 5-1

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SF Bulls’ Forward Rob Linsmayer

(Originally published at Inside Hockey)

Going into Bakersfield Tuesday night, the San Francisco Bulls not only needed a win, they badly needed a goal. After being shut out in back to back home games to cap off six losses in a row, the Bulls were having trouble explaining their troubles. At the start of the season, maybe they weren’t shooting enough. By the fifth loss in this latest losing streak, they were certainly shooting enough. Tuesday, their shots finally started to hit the mark, five times in all. The Bakersfield Condors were the unlucky targets of the Bulls’ vengeful scoring binge. Is one win and some roster moves enough to turn the tide for the Bulls? Time will tell, but San Francisco really had nowhere to go but up. Continue reading

The Next Bigos Thing

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(Originally published at Inside Hockey)

It is difficult not to notice a very large man with the word “big” in his name, but defenseman Kyle Bigos bears watching for more than that. The Upland, CA native has made visible progress in just ten games with the San Francisco Bulls. Head Coach Pat Curcio sees promise in him:

He’s come a long way, he’s still got a long way to go but I think that he’s working hard every day and that’s going to help, [bodes] well for him. I think that a good year down here will give him an opportunity to make the American League next year and then he can go from there.

From Bigos’ first games with the team, he stood out, and not only for being very tall. He was noticeable for playing a solid defensive game. He has since added a few tricks to his routine, like shooting a whole big lot from the blue line. As a result, he has a goal and an assist in his last two games.

Last July, the San Jose Sharks traded Lee Moffie to the Edmonton Oilers for Bigos. After training camp in San Jose and then Worcester, Bigos was assigned to the San Francisco Bulls.

Like many of the Bulls, Bigos is making the adjustment from college hockey to the professional game this season. It is a significant gap for Bigos to bridge, as Curcio explains:

I think … playing more games is the least of his concerns.The game is faster, the game is stronger, you’re playing against men instead of older teenagers. You can’t get away with the things you could get away with in college, that’s for sure. It’s night and day. The physicality of it, you’re not playing with a cage, there’s so much, there’s so much.

Bigos has noticed those differences:

It was frustrating at first. Not really as a young player but as a first year in pros, it’s a transition from college. [I] did my best, there were some bumps in the road. The organization, the coaches and players really help me along.

The most conspicuous addition to Bigos’ game since the start of the season is an increase in shots taken. The whole team is shooting more, so this improvement isn’t too surprising. But as a blue liner, his shots can make a big difference, especially for the power play. Bigos attributes the shots on net to an adjustment to his game in general:

Once you figure the position, you move your feet a little bit more, shoot quicker, you can find lanes, so better for me and the team.

Hockey’s Future said this about Bigos in his NCAA career:

Mean, nasty, and fierce in defense of his teammates. Bigos is a mountain of a man and knows how to use his size to his advantage. Speed and quickness are an issue as they are with many men of his size, however his solid positioning helps him compensate for both.

The positioning mentioned was evident even in early games with the Bulls. Either his speed has improved or Bigos is compensating even better, because you don’t see him on the wrong end of a lot of footraces.

Perhaps the next thing we’ll see is more of that mean, nasty fierceness.  We saw some of that in Colorado on November 2, when he racked up 17 penalty minutes and a game misconduct. Since the Bulls lost that game 4-1, probably keeping the penalty minutes down is a better plan.

Curcio commented last Friday that while Bigos has some growing to do, he could be worth the wait:

Watching him tonight and watching him the last couple games, he’s getting better. And some… you know these scouts have been around 40 years, they don’t necessarily make mistakes. They see something, and we’re starting to see what they see…

Whatever the next Bigos thing is, Bulls fans should look forward to seeing it.

(Originally published at Inside Hockey)

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

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