ONTARIO — If it was doomsday on ice for the San Francisco Bulls at their “End of the World As We Know It” game on Friday, then the day after doomsday turned out to be, well, doomsday again.
The Bulls took charge at the start Saturday and entered the final period with a 3-1 lead. But history repeated itself before 8,409 at the Citizens Business Bank Arena as the Ontario Reign caught up to force overtime and beat the Bulls in a shootout to win 4-3.
Did the Bulls play better on the second of the back-to-backs, though?
Bulls assistant coach Kyle Paige told SFBay:
“Yeah, definitely. At the start of the game we kept the style simple and got the puck through the net and in the third period, they took control. With a team this good, the key is to limit those mistakes so they don’t get those chances.”
After San Francisco gave up two goals in the final period and overtime went scoreless, the teams went into a shootout. Said Paige:
“In a shootout, it’s anyone’s game really.”
The Reign made it theirs, with the second of their three successful shootout goals playing out epic, if not theatrical.
Up 1-0 at the end of two rounds, Ontario’s Colton Yellow Horn skated in innocently enough. Once he skated past the slot, he passed the puck through his legs to his right skate, then spun and beat sprawling Bulls’ goalie Thomas Heemskerk glove side with a nifty two-handed backhand.
“The ESPN highlight reel. I just remember he kind of pushed it blocker side and next thing I knew, I was behind the play and he was going the other way. I couldn’t catch up.”
The Bulls’ Dean Ouellet answered with the only Bulls shootout goal, then Ontario’s Jason Beeman finished the Bulls off with a right-handed finisher.
Though the Bulls lost after a 3-1 shootout, Paige told SFBay he wasn’t disappointed in Heemskerk’s work as the goalie:
“He probably would have liked to get a couple saves but they had a lot of skilled forwards that were tough to stop, so I thought he played well.”
Earlier, the Reign had taken the first goal of the game at 17:03 into the first period thanks to forward Kyle Kraemer. The Bulls had luck on their side at the very end of the period with a power play, when a stifled Andrew Crescenzi shot allowed Justin Bowers to score on the right side into an open net.
The second period was all Bulls – specifically forward Jordan Morrison. His first goal whizzed past Ontario goalie Chris Carrozzi at 17:17, and just over a minute later the puck hit a defenseman before Morrison deflected it into an unguarded net.
“The second one was just a lucky bounce.”
Doom began to descend on the Bulls halfway through the third period, when Reign right wing Dan DaSilva passed the puck to forward Chris Cloud who sent it sailing past Heemskerk just inside the left circle.
At 17:03, a cluster of Reign circulated the goal to defenseman Vincent LoVerde for a shot off the right side past Heemskerk’s blocker to tie the game at 3-3.
As for the rest, well, you already know.
Of his team’s performance, Reign head coach Jason Christie said:
“We got sidetracked a little but came back in the third period and worked hard.”
The Bulls also lost in a shootout in Ontario Oct. 17, 5-4. San Francisco, eighth in the Western Conference, is 1-7 against the Reign, second in the conference. They return home to battle the Las Vegas Wranglers on Friday at 7:15 p.m., and won’t face their doom again until Jan. 31 when the Reign visit at the Cow Palace.
Heemskerk admitted the Bulls have to figure out how to play a full game against the Reign:
“They’re a great team, really tough, especially against us, not too sure why or if there’s a reason.”
His teammate Morrison, however, was more optimistic:
“I think our guys worked hard. We didn’t get outcome we wanted but it’s a long season. We’ll play these guys a few more times and we’ll get ‘em.”