Petshark: Talking Stick
Entries with the tag: Pat Curcio
Peter Sivak was the first player signed by the San Francisco Bulls, ECHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks. A quick google search for "Peter Sivak" will turn up several mentions of one of the fastest goals in professional hockey history. Whether it was 5 seconds from the faceoff, 4.8 seconds, or 3.23 seconds isn't important. It was very fast. It isn't entirely surprising that he did that. Sivak takes a lot of shots, from every angle, very quickly. This is one of the reasons he is the Bulls' leading goal-scorer.
His North American career did not start so auspiciously. In his first month with the team, he had only one goal, three points, and 22 shots in eight games.
After that slow start, Sivak's production picked up with a statistical jolt. In 24 games through November and December, he scored 10 goals, had 25 points, and took 92 shots. In January and February, he had 16 goals, 20 points, 109 shots in 23 games. During his first two months in the league, he took a paltry 12 penalty minutes, not bad for a player expected to score and stay out of the box. Since then, his penalty minutes have gone down even more, to just 12 minutes in 40 games, including a penalty-free February.
I attended the Bulls game as a ticket holder last Sunday with a bunch of friends. We had a wonderful time, though watching the Bulls get beaten by Bakersfield put a damper on it. I went ahead and bought an orange hoodie. I don't buy much fan gear but I can always use another hoodie. I spent yesterday afternoon curled up in a blanket wearing that hoodie watching Chicago beat the Kings before NBC let me watch the Flyers lose. On my way to SF, I got to listen to Worcester lose to the Booshed-up Phantoms too. I started the day in a bad mood, those games did not help.
The Bulls went to Stockton Friday with a revamped roster, working four new players into the mix. They play Stockton again today, making three in a row against the same team. The new Bulls lost that first game to Stockton. The team wasn't all there though: Scott Langdon, Alternate Captain and much relied-on defenseman, was serving the second of a two game suspension. His absence was felt. For the second game in a row, goalie Taylor Nelson was pulled after a brutal quartet of goals against, to be replaced by Bryan Hince. For a more thorough review of that game, I refer you to someone who was there: Paul Gackle.
Saturday, Taylor Nelson started in goal again. Curcio put Galiardi, Sivak and Dean Ouellet on a line together again. Morrison, Trudeau and Christian Ouellet made up another line. The change Curcio did make was to go with five defensemen instead of six. That made sorting out the pairings a little difficult for me, like guessing a 5-digit lock combination. Likewise the lower forward lines, with two additional players to rotate in... I was at a loss to keep track. It didn't matter. The Bulls had their game on last night.
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
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 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.
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:
A little over year ago, news emerged that the San Francisco Bulls, a new ECHL team, would be taking up residence at The Cow Palace. How time flies. San Francisco's new hockey team has now held a dozen practices. They play their first regular season game tomorrow.
I asked Head Coach Pat Curcio if that seemed rushed:
"It didn't, until last Friday. When I looked at our lineup ... we have 13 rookies ... and we were playing a team with 12 veterans in their lineup. That was a little bit overwhelming... but the guys worked through it. Tomorrow night... Bakersfield's got at least a dozen guys that played there last year."
ECHL Rules limit the number of veterans on a team. But that doesn't mean ECHL teams are all made up of players in their first professional season. Obviously some, like Bakersfield and Colorado, do have many players that fall in between rookie status and the veteran cut off.
In today’s Mercury News there’s a story by Mark Emmons about Alex Stalock’s return to pro hockey. Stalock recently completed a stint with the Stockton Thunder:
When Sharks training camp opened in September, there was a growing optimism. Stalock skated for the first time. He slowly worked up to a rehab stint with Stockton, a minor league affiliate for the Sharks and Edmonton Oilers, making his return on Jan. 21. -Mercury News
It’s a very good story about a player and a recovery that is just this side of miraculous. Yet Emmons doesn’t mention the name of the minor league. Sigh.
The league’s name is sort of like Ulysses S Grant’s middle name: just initials. Unlike Grant, the league does have a proper name where the initials are: East Coast Hockey League, but nobody out here calls it that. It’s one of those names that tells you where someone came from but not what or where they are now. “Taylor,” for example: once upon a time, someone in that family was a tailor, probably in England. The odds are pretty slim that this person is actually a tailor in England now.
It’s been 16 years (or it will have been) since a hockey team played at the Cow Palace. I don’t mention that simply to make those of you who saw it feel old. As Carol Klatt, Mayor of Daly City said: “16 years is a long time to go without hockey.” Mayor Klatt confessed to being a Blues fan, since she is originally from Missouri. She’s also been back to watch the Blues play. Old loyalties aside, she promised: “I plan to be behind the glass when that first puck hits the ice” in a San Francisco Bulls game.