Petshark: Talking Stick
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.
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:
After their last meeting, there was reason to doubt the San Francisco Bulls' chances against the Ontario Reign. During the first 8 minutes, the Bulls didn't spend a lot of time outside their end of the ice. That turned out to be the case for most of the game. Thomas Heemskerk wasn't going to have an easy time of it in his second game in two nights. To his credit, he held up better than the rest of the team.
The first penalty was booed roundly before being announced, a tripping penalty against the Bulls' Clendenning. The Bulls killed that off and celebrated with a brief offensive rush, only to be pushed back again. The Bulls didn't give the Reign a lot of room to set up their offense, but they couldn't organize an attack of their own. Frantic passes off the glass went to opposing players, missed passes turned to icing.
With half of the first period gone, the Bulls only had one shot to the Reign's 7. The Reign scored two goals, just over 30 seconds apart. The Bulls took another penalty and killed it off but didn't manage to get another short until the second period.
The Worcester Sharks and the San Francisco Bulls both play today. Last weekend was great for Worcester. They won 2 of 3 and got the OT point in the loss. Sunday's nail-biter featured a 0-0 tie all the way into a shootout, against the Manchester Monarchs who currently sit well above Worcester in the AHL Conference standings. Stalock was in net for that one. All that has to be good for morale.
The SF Bulls wrapped up their long road trip in Ontario on Wednesday night with a 3-1 loss. It was not an easy road trip for them. They haven't won since their second road game in Bakersfield on October 19. Let's hope being home can restart the engine.
As has been reported, Ryane Clowe's agreement with the Bulls was made official and announced by the team. It isn't clear yet whether he will play. With more NHLers signing deals with ECHL teams this week (Setoguchi helped the Reign beat the Bulls on Wednesday), it would seem like a moot point. Of course Clowe should play, if he wants to. Or should he?
Things are heating up. In Northern California, we can expect it to get really warm in the next few days, the Bulls won a game and something seems to be breaking loose in the NHL CBA talks. This tweet sums that last part up for me:
@TheFourthPeriod: Being told there's plenty of good traction tonight over CBA. Still a lot of work to be done, but this could move relatively quickly.
We'll see about that. In the mean time...
The San Francisco Bulls play the Ontario Reign at 7pm tonight. It's the team's third game ever, and their first road game. Ontario's NHL affiliate is the Los Angeles Kings. Ontario led the division at the end of last season but the playoffs weren't kind to them. Glancing over their roster I noticed a familiar name: Dan DaSilva, previously of the Worcester Sharks.
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.
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