Bulls swamped by Steelheads 2-1

COW PALACE — The fists were flying and the icy air was churning at the Cow Palace Thursday night as the San Francisco Bulls hosted the very competitive Idaho Steelheads before a crowd of 2,463.

While the Bulls got the better of the Steelheads in their first visit to the Barn back in November, it would be Idaho who would get the 2-1 win in San Francisco’s first post-NHL lockout game of the season.

President and Head Coach Pat Curcio seemed pleased post-game with some of his team’s performance, but admitted roster shifts and sick players took a toll on the evening’s offensive play:

“We had a short bench tonight with a couple sick players, and we battled pretty hard. But we just weren’t sharp. … You’re going to make mistakes, if we give up one or two every night we should be able to score two or three to get us up a point. I think we lost a lot of momentum tonight.”

It would be a battle of the defenses until late in the first period when Peter Sivak would laser-beam the puck past Idaho goalie Tyler Beskorowany to give the home team the 1-0 advantage. Alex Tuckerman and Jordan Morrison would tally assists.

Idaho would not score in the first period, despite outshooting the Bulls and making goalie Taylor Nelson work for his fancy saves. Nelson spoke afterwards about a shot that caught him in the neck:

“I have a friend that plays on their team in Matt Case, went to college with him for a couple years. He can sure fire the puck. And he caught me right in the throat, right in the collarbone. And the puck happened to bounce up and land on top of the net. And normally when the puck hits you here, it doesn’t really do that. So yeah, some nice bounces.”

Defenseman Scott Langdon talked about Nelson’s performance — and the heightened state of the Bulls defense — over the past couple of games:

“Nelson’s really stepping into his own. He’s playing really well. Young kid like that, you want to help him out as much as we can. And our D has been getting better and better.”

The next goal of the game wouldn’t come until a mere 1:33 was left in the second period. Unfortunately, it would be in favor of the Steelheads. Forward David de Kastrozza would get the jump on Nelson to the game 1-1.

The letdown of the Idaho goal would be interrupted by a flurry of fists between Langdon and Steelhead Sam Carrick. The center ice brawl would result in five-minute fighting penalties and a match penalty to Langdon for an illegal check to the head.

Langdon got candid about the call and subsequent ejection post-game:

“I don’t know if I’m going to be hitting anybody anymore because of the way they call around here. I don’t even think it was a ref that made that call, it was a linesman. You know, he’s supposed to watch the lines. So hopefully they watch the video, maybe a linesman will get fined for making poor calls out there.”

Following a Bulls penalty kill to open up the third period, the Steelheads would score the game winner courtesy of Tristan King, assisted by Austin Fyten and William Lacasse. Neither team would score again, sealing the home team’s fate with a 2-1 loss.

Since the 49ers play on Saturday, all you sports fans should designate Sunday for watching hockey. The Bulls will be at home hosting the Bakersfield Condors at 2:15 p.m.