Bulls falls short in raucous opener

COW PALACE — In front of 8,277 fans — many decked out in Sharks jerseys and Giants jackets — the San Francisco Bulls came up short 4-3 in their inaugural rumble against the Bakersfield Condors despite a fierce third period charge with back-to-back goals from the home team.

President and head coach Pat Curcio said after the game that, while there were both faults and triumphs, his biggest concern was the team keeping up its momentum:

“We were a little sluggish early, we made some mistakes. I thought in the third period we played with a lot of heart and passion. . . It seems that we’ve got that, we just need to find a way to play 60 minutes. I was impressed with a lot of guys. . . Still a lot of hockey left.”

The Condors struck first in the defensively strong first period with a goal by forward Levi Nelson. But the Bulls would retaliate, as center Dean Ouellet, with help from Jordan Clendenning, scored the first goal in Bulls franchise history to tie the game at 1-1.

The Condors’ Zach Cohen would keep the tie brief with shot at 18:36 to bring the score to 2-1 at the end of the first period.

The second period started with a Bulls no-goal due to a high-stick by Clendenning, and the mistake would be echoed later in the period with a penalty shot by Bakersfield’s Robby Dee to give the Condors the 3-1 advantage.

Several blocked goals on both sides of the puck would eventually give way as Condors forward Brett Perlini, assisted by left wing Zach Cohen, took advantage of his own rebound and widened the Condors lead to 4-1.

Coach Curcio said of the second period:

“I think there were a few things that took the wind out of our sails. … We made some mistakes and we beat ourselves. I felt that our mistakes ended up in our net.”

That being said, Curcio was very complimentary of goalie Thomas Heemskerk, who saved 31 of Bakersfield’s 35 shots for the whole game:

“I thought he was fantastic, I thought he made some big saves at the right time.”

Despite being down by three points at the opening of the third, the Bulls — in the same fashion of a certain other San Francisco team — had a late offensive burst that brought the Cow Palace crowd to their feet.

After a period of mostly defensive play and more blocked shots by Heemskerk, the Bulls put not one, but two goals on the board. The first came courtesy of center Kevin Baker with assistance from left wing Kris Belan and right wing Thomas Beauregard.

Then, in what seemed like near seconds afterwards, defenseman Sacha Guimond took aim at the goal with an assist from center Justin Bowers.

But even with their late jolt of energy, and more than 8,000 screaming fans powering the background, San Francisco was unable to put another goal on the board, concluding the battle at 4-3 in favor of Bakersfield.

But no time for dwelling on tonight’s loss! Coach Curcio is already looking ahead to tomorrow’s game:

“We need to look at some video tonight and tomorrow and make some corrections.”

The Bulls play again Saturday night at the Cow Palace against the Bakersfield Condors at 7:15 p.m..

Notes

For any of you taking BART and Muni to and from Bulls games, there is a free shuttle service running between the Cow Palace and Balboa Park on game nights.

Should you take the shuttle, however, you might also be riding along in the dimly lit party-bus-emulating space with some rowdy college boys that decide to shout their frat songs at the top of their lungs to keep from getting too bored.

Quick shout-out to Bulls fans, and fraternity brothers, the Pi’s from UOP — for their entertaining sing-along after the Bulls inaugural game.