Petshark: Talking Stick
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.
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Tags: echl, jordan+morrison, lockout, marek+viedensky, mikael+tam, pat+curcio, ryane+clowe, san+francisco+bulls, scott+langdon, stockton+thunder, taylor+nelson, thomas+heemskerk
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.
Stockton's only goal before the third period was a power play goal, scored with only 13 seconds left on a double minor against Justin Bowers in the second. When they say "the puck took a crazy bounce", they mean this one-- it took several pinball-like bounces before popping over Heemskerk's glove and into the net. It really shouldn't have been a very disheartening goal-- bouncing plus four minute penalty kill should warrant some self-forgiveness. Nevertheless, it put a damper on the Bulls. The Bulls had outshot the Thunder in the first period but didn't do so again in the second or third.
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Tags: andrew+crescenzi, daniil+tarasov, dean+ouellet, dylan+king, echl, jordan+clendenning, jordan+morrison, justin+bowers, kris+belan, marek+viedensky, peter+sivak, sf+bulls, stockton+thunder, thomas+heemskerk, tyler+bunz
A different group of guys lost to the same group of guys that beat the Bulls back in early November. Well, not exactly the same group. Two Colorado players from the last meeting have gone (Joey Sides, Adam Chorneyko) and one was added (Kevin Ulanski). In Friday's game, the quantifiable distinction amounted to one assist from Ulanski. That's not right, Sides had 2 assists and a goal before. I don't think the math actually matters here.
Curcio describes falling behind early as a persistent challenge for the Bulls:
"We didn't get any breaks early. Being such a young team-- not making excuses-- we don't battle through adversity... if we get up early, we can do anything once we're up. When we're down we're a different group of guys."
If you want to look for indicators of how a Bulls game is going to go, Jordan Morrison going to the box early could be one, at least in the games I've watched. Still, the Eagles' didn't score until after a second penalty was called against Belan, giving the Eagles a minute and 23 seconds of five on three. Then Chad Costello scored his 40th point of the season.
The damage from those penalties was limited to the one goal. Unfortunately, it set the tone for the rest of the period. The little errors crept in and multiplied, passes failed, decisions didn't work out:
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Tags: colorado+eagles, echl, jordan+morrison, kyle+jones, pat+curcio, sf+bulls, taylor+nelson, teddy+bear+toss, thomas+heemskerk
The Bulls play the Colorado Eagles at the Cow Palace tonight. Bring a teddy bear to toss, enjoy the game, forget your worries. The game will be broadcast on Comcast Hometown Network, for those with access to that. Otherwise, listen for free on KNBR.com or the Colorado feed on iHeart, or pay to watch on America One Sports.
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.
The San Francisco Bulls have returned from an unmemorable three game road trip. Perhaps it wasn't really unmemorable. The back and forth scoring and last-second tying goal in Las Vegas was pretty exciting, but the team still didn't bring a win home.
Tonight they face the by now familiar Bakersfield Condors at the Cow Palace. As of Monday, the Bulls' forward lines still looked much the same, aside from the possibility of Tarasov and Clendenning switching lines. But that was just one practice two days ago, hardly conclusive.
Over the past few days, I discovered an impatience I haven't felt for a while, the "hold on, no games today? Or tomorrow? Or... I'm supposed to wait how long for a game?" feeling. It was irritating, but not bad. It reminded me of a normal hockey season. It feels like being all adapted to the new hockey universe.
This impatience drove me to start hunting for European and KHL games online. This is not only difficult because feeds tend to move around, but also because an audio feed will not do. I don't speak most of the languages these games are broadcast in. I did manage to dig up a Dinamo Minsk game going on yesterday morning. A video feed was not available to me (which only took me about an hour to figure out) but following the scoreboard was better than nothing. So that was fun, except that Minsk blew a lead and fell 6-3. At least Pavelski got a goal.
There are several Sharks abroad. I found the following information online, but I can't be sure how complete it is. I started with Eurohockey.com because they have an easy search that found most of the Sharks quickly. From there I sort of wandered:
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Tags: antti+niemi, bundesliga, del, douglas+murray, jason+demers, joe+pavelski, joe+thornton, justin+braun, khl, logan+couture, michal+handzus, nla, sm-liiga, t.j.+galiardi, thomas+greiss, tommy+wingels
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.
Stop patronizing me, NHL et al. I'm not patronizing you, but then you don't have anything to sell. Your shop doors are locked.
So just don't. NHL, don't pretend you're trying to avoid going broke. I know you're just trying to get more on top of the very much you already get from the sport. NHLPA, don't tell me I'd do the same thing in your position, I can't even imagine being in your position. Media, stop telling me this lockout is such a bleeding catastrophe because it leaves me without hockey to watch. If you don't know there's plenty of hockey for me to follow, you haven't done your homework. If someone is telling you you're not allowed to cover anything but major league sports, I'm sorry. I can't help you.
It doesn't matter who I side with in the dispute. I have no say. Let me in the room, give me 20 minutes and a sturdy piece of lumber, I could probably sort it out for you but you wouldn't like it. So don't apologize to me, you don't really care what I think. I'm going to watch some hockey.
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.
Everything looked better. Those errant passes, those innumerable penalties, the frantic clears becoming turnovers, all of that was gone. How significant was it that Devin Setoguchi didn't make the trip with the Reign? The Reign beat the Bulls without Setoguchi in their first meeting, though it was very close. Setoguchi scored a lot in the games he played against San Francisco, but I'm not sure he accounted for every little thing going wrong for the Bulls before. Just as the Reign's lineup looked different, so did the Bulls'.
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:
About Petshark: Talking Stick
Native of Northern California. Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.
I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle. I watch, I react, I write it down.
My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked. I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind. When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom. It hasn't, I don't think it will. At all.
Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.
I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.
I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org