Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Bulls’ winning streak against Thunder ends in San Jose

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.  

Of the possibility that all that travel may have hurt their game Monday, Curcio said simply:

I think we let our fatigue... get the best of us in the second.  We regrouped in the third and I think the guys gave everything they had in the third period.

That second period saw Stockton score three goals, two in under a minute.  Taylor Nelson came in to relieve Thomas Heemskerk after that.  The third period push, while not unheard of for the Bulls, was a good sign.  It still doesn't break their dependency on scoring first, but it is progress.

The Bulls penalty kill held up pretty well, but so did the Thunder's.  Watching the game, it was frustrating that the Bulls' power play couldn't sustain pressure.  The Thunder didn't have better luck there-- each team went 1-4 on the power play.  Curcio recognized it could have been better but wasn't too disappointed with the Bulls' power play:

We did get a power play goal tonight, but when we had an opportunity to tie the game up....it didn't perform very well.   Without making excuses, there are a lot of young guys that play in our first unit... and you have to be hungry... to score when you get those opportunities.  We didn't do that but you keep trying to get better.

Still, the Bulls lost to a team that had yet to beat them, even after the Bulls scored first and came out with a very strong first period (littered with distracting fights as it was).  Was it the curse of the early penalty to Morrison (quite possibly a figment of my imagination, as most of my superstitions are)?  Or the increased fragility of a streak, the longer it gets?  Or was it just the ECHL, where every game has the potential to be "interesting"?

It may have had something to do with the players missing from the bench:

Things start to go well and then we lose Marek [Viedensky].  He's got an infection in his lungs ... high fever, he couldn't even get out of bed, he had to go to the hospital.  He's been one of our best players, we missed him tonight.  And then Scotty Langdon... one of our best defensemen, caught a slapshot in the back of the helmet, he's out indefinitely.  A couple of the young guys stepped up, I thought Tuckerman and Devane did a good job, and Crescenzi and Belan again.  But you miss two of your best players and it takes its toll.

Mikael Tam, just back from Worcester, helped out.  He scored the Bulls' first goal, and the first goal of the game.  That was big.  The Bulls have only won once without scoring first.  Couldn't ask for more from Tam.

What was this game about?  It was two regular season points, a boost to the local eateries, work for the arena folks... a respite from the NHL lockout that has so many hurting in a variety of ways.

I asked Ryane Clowe if being part of this team helps curb his craving to play NHL hockey.  He's been asked that in various forms before, it's clear he likes coaching and practicing with the team.  But do the Bulls take the edge off the lockout?

Yeah... The fact that I get to know these guys now, I feel a little bit a part of the team, and then get to practice on a daily basis has been good.  Obviously you're in a little bit of a routine and schedule, something you miss out on when you're not playing... I think I've realized that maybe when I'm done I'll get into coaching, but I realize how much I still have a passion to play and be out there and how much I miss it.

It was distracting, being at HP again, irritating that it wasn't full to the gills as it should be.  I found myself wondering how many season ticket holders are actually just ticket resellers?  How many of these empty seats were handed out to people who turned around and tried to sell them to someone who actually wanted to go to the game?  With the anger from fans of both teams who couldn't get tickets, to have seats empty seems, no IS, insulting.

Happier distractions were not lost on the Bulls, and I have to assume they were noticed by the Thunder as well.  Stockton has a noisy arena that boasted crowds over 9,000 more than once last season.  Still, with the new glass and the NHL ambience they would have felt a little extra... extra.

Clowe explained how the Bulls felt about playing in San Jose:

They were more excited once they got here and saw the whole environment... I told the guys to be ready 'cause these fans get loud... and they were... in the third when we started to come back.  Even in the first, the guys were surprised by how loud these fans get...  and [these fans] don't know San Francisco, they just love hockey.

Obviously Clowe means San Jose fans are unfamiliar with the Bulls hockey team, not the city.  Of course people in San Jose are familiar with San Francisco, at least the fact that it's a city to the north.   But it brings up a couple of details about how the Sharks kept their name in this game.  Firstly, SJ Sharkie was on the ice with Rawhide.  Secondly, in the middle of the ice there was a big Sharks logo.  Around it, there was no mention of the Sharks' name, just HP Pavilion in San Jose.  That seemed odd.  Sure, the Bulls have a right to skate over the Sharks logo, they are an affiliate.  But I don't think they put the logo there for the amusement of the Bulls players.  It's the sort of thing one could ask about, if one were used to being able to ask things, which I'm not yet.

Are they keeping the ice ready in case the lockout ends?  If so, don't they have to take it down to repaint center ice with the correct NHL season art?  And isn't keeping all that ice frozen a big waste of energy?  If memory serves, putting up the ice is something that happens during training camp.  I don't buy that it has to sit there for months in waiting, just in case.   Did they put that logo there because it belongs there, the fans expect it?  I found it kind of depressing.

I think there must be a lot of factors contributing to my sense of time and space, but San Jose seems much farther away than it did before.

Filed in: , , San Jose Sharks, , | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: echl, jordan+morrison, lockout, marek+viedensky, mikael+tam, pat+curcio, ryane+clowe, san+francisco+bulls, scott+langdon, stockton+thunder, taylor+nelson, thomas+heemskerk

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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 talkingstick@petshark.net