COW PALACE — Call me superstitious, but having Sergio Romo drop the puck at Friday night’s Bulls game must’ve been a sign that a victory was on the horizon.
Or perhaps it was several members of the team helping push the broken-down Zamboni off the ice that gave them good karma for an explosive third period.
Ah yes, Bulls hockey is back in The City By the Bay after nearly a month on the road. And they marked their return to the Cow Palace by treating a very rowdy home crowd to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Stockton Thunder.
Even head coach Pat Curcio couldn’t stop chuckling at a replay of the team pushing the busted ice resurfacer off the ice, relating it to how well the team played in the third period:
“I spend so much time looking at stats. When we score, when we don’t score. . . But the bottom line is, if you play the right way for 60 minutes, eventually you’re going to get good results. And tonight was evident of that.”
To make the win even sweeter, the Bulls had just come off of a rough road trip, losing seven straight games. Coach Curcio said he’d be fine if the team didn’t go for that long on the road again:
“It was a lot harder and a lot tougher than I expected. So, I don’t want to do that too often.”
Friday’s game got off to a quiet start on both sides of the ice, with Bulls goalie Thomas Heemskerk turning away the Thunder’s first six attempts on goal.
The Thunder would strike first, though, with a goal by forward Harrison Reed at 8:58. But the Bulls wouldn’t go down quietly.
With Stockton receiving back-to-back penalties, defender Sacha Guimond, with assistance from Chris Lawrence and Dean Ouellet, made the power play goal to tie the game 1-1. They would end the first period tied.
Both teams would go scoreless in the second period, and Heemskerk would remain perfect in goal the rest of the night, stopping 31 shots and bouncing back from a nine-goal weekend.
Heemskerk said post-game of his role:
“It felt really good to keep their goals low tonight. Just get lots of blocked shots and help the team out.”
The third period was when San Francisco went on their offensive tear. Ouellet and center Kevin Baker contributed goals within the first six minutes of play, giving San Francisco the 3-1 advantage.
Then, following three blocked shots by Stockton goalie Cody Reichard, forward Jordan Morrison, assisted by center Chris Lawrence, put the puck in the net yet again to give the Bulls the 4-1 lead with 9:23 left in the period.
San Francisco shut down Stockton the rest of the way to cap off their second home victory and third win overall.
The team’s aggressive play on the ice was arguably a result of having the addition of NHL members on the bench. San Jose Sharks veteran and new Bulls acquisition Ryane Clowe, currently on injured reserve, served as both a motivational coach-type as well as a teammate. Clowe said of his role on the team:
“I thought that I was going to stay behind there and kind of be quiet. But still being a player … you kind of get into the game, and I got into it right away. … So it was really good. I really enjoyed it.”
And Coach Curcio admitted having two NHL-ers in the locker room hasn’t hurt either:
“I think having both NHL guys here, everything just rubs off. … At the NHL level, you don’t learn to play, you have to be able to play. These guys are learning, so what a quick way to learn. We couldn’t benefit any more than that.”
The Bulls will be back on the ice Saturday night to host the Ontario Reign. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m.