COW PALACE — Bulls fans, I can’t lie: I absolutely hate country-western music.
Literally, it makes me want to drop my own gloves and take a five-minute fighting penalty.
But I’ll have to let the obnoxious tunes slide, as it just might have energized the San Francisco Bulls Friday night, who rallied late to notch a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Eagles in front of a country music-loving Cow Palace crowd of 5,231.
Friday wasn’t only the first Bulls’ win in which the opposing team scored the first goal, but it was also their first win against a very aggressive Colorado team. President and Head Coach Pat Curcio said of the rivalry with the Eagles:
“Yeah, you know it’s weird. I don’t know why but we don’t like each other. No question. In Colorado it was war, here it has been a war, and they’re just one of those teams that you just find easy to hate. So it feels good to win tonight.”
Colorado forward Joey Sides would strike late in the first period on a power play to give the Eagles the 1-0 lead. Collin Bowman and Michael Forney would earn assists.
The Eagles held the lead until Bulls All-Star Dean Ouellet put the puck past Colorado goaltender Adam Brown for a crowd-pleasing goal that tied the game 1-1. Rob Kwiet and Daniil Tarasov would earn assists.
Ouellet said post-game of the energy level after getting that first goal:
“I think we had a really good feeling. We just wanted to keep going, I think we were pretty confident that we were going to come out on top tonight.”
Unfortunately the tie would be brief, as Sides would again slide the puck past Taylor Nelson to give the Eagles the 2-1 advantage with 42 seconds left in the period.
But that third period surge would kick in early — real early. Three seconds in, Scott Langdon would drop his gloves and take a couple swings at Colorado’s Isaac Smeltzer. Langdon didn’t mince words when talking about the fight after the game:
“Obviously we don’t like each other. They’ve beaten us, how many times now? And I knew that the boys needed a little extra encouragement there for the third, so what better time, you know?”
The fisticuffs would be just what the Bulls needed. At 6:44, a back-and-forth between Ouellet and Tarasov would send the puck to Rob Kwiet, who would net the power-play goal and tie the game at 2-2.
Less than a minute later, Peter Sivak’s flick-of-the-wrist shot high into Colorado’s net would give the Bulls the 3-2 advantage. Langdon and Jordan Morrison would earn assists.
Sivak would get up-close-and-personal with Brown once again, before shooting the puck past him again to give the Bulls a 4-2 lead.
Colorado’s Sides would complete his hat trick and score on Nelson with 1:05 left in regulation. But it wouldn’t be enough to topple the home team. The Bulls would finally get their first win over the Eagles, outshooting Colorado 42-25.
Nelson turned away 22 of 25 Eagles shots, and said postgame the big win was definitely a full-team effort:
“It was an optional skate Thursday, yet every guy on the team was out on the ice. That’s always good to see. Especially after a tough loss like we had on Wednesday, to get everyone back on the ice again and get spirits high, it’s great.”
The Bulls will be back in action Thursday, January 10 to host the Idaho Steelheads. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m.