Bulls edged by Aces in middle game thriller

The conditions might have been frigid in Anchorage, Alaska, but that wouldn’t stop the competition from staying molten hot at Sullivan Arena, where the Aces hosted the San Francisco Bulls Saturday night.

Goaltender Taylor Nelson and the Bulls were looking for their fourth straight win, coming off a dominant Friday night performance in which they toppled the first-place home Aces 5-2.

But San Francisco would not be able to keep the streak up, getting edged by Alaska 2-1 in front of the crowd of 5,206.

A hungry Alaska team would hit the ground running — I’m sorry, hit the ice skating — with two goals early in the first period. The first by Alexandre Imbeault at 6:48, and the second by Garry Nunn at 7:57.

Nelson spoke post-game about facing the surging Alaska offense in the first:

“They came out real fast in those first couple of minutes. And it’s always hard when you’re the visiting team and they’re coming at you on their home ice.”

The Aces would carry the 2-0 lead into the first intermission, outshooting the Bulls 12-5.

San Francisco would battle hard in the second period to get the puck past goaltender Gerald Coleman, replacing Friday’s Mark Guggenberger between the pipes. Finally, at 13:38, Christian Ouellet would tally his third goal in two nights — helped by Jordan Morrison and Sebastian Trudeau — to put the Bulls on top 2-1.

A nail-biter would ensue, as San Francisco would find themselves getting into penalty trouble. But the Bulls would, somehow, kill off six consecutive minutes of Alaska power play to retreat to their dressing room with the score still 2-1.

When asked about the back-to-back-to-back PK’s, Head Coach Pat Curcio didn’t seem worried:

“You know, we’ve been getting really confident in our penalty kills. And that was an important turn for us.”

Nelson agreed that the end of the second was jet fuel for the team:

“Those six minutes were a big momentum-booster going into the locker room. And you could see it in how hard we came out in the third period.”

San Francisco would outshoot Alaska 15-8 in the third period and make several strong attempts to get the puck past Coleman. But in the end neither team would score another goal, and the Aces would cling to the 2-1 victory.

The three-game series between the Bulls and Aces ends tomorrow. The puck drops at 8:15 p.m Pacific time.