Forget negative-degree weather and a quick turnaround from a Saturday night loss. The San Francisco Bulls were out to cap their three-game series against the Aces up in Anchorage with a victory.
And a victory they would get, in dramatic fashion no doubt, with a 3-2 win in overtime in front of a Sunday crowd of 3,912.
This would be the second weekend series in a row that the Bulls would take two-of-three. It would mark the first time the Western Conference-leading Aces would lose in OT all season.
San Francisco — typically, more effective when scoring first — knocked the puck under Mark Guggenberger with a goal by Dean Ouellet at 7:46. Peter Sivak and Scott Langdon would pick up assists.
The Aces would outshoot the Bulls 14-8 in the first period but not get the puck past Taylor Nelson and San Francisco’s defense. Nelson, always one to speak highly of his teammates, spoke exclusively with SFBay post-game about the Bulls’ defensive effort:
“You know, it’s one thing for a goalie to throw himself in front of a shot. But it’s another for (other) players to sacrifice themselves. It’s definitely a testament to how well the team is playing together.”
Alaska would answer quickly in the second period, with a goal by Shawn Skelly nine seconds in. Then, Aces’ right wing Jarred Smith would get control of a loose rebound to shoot it past Nelson’s glove to give Alaska a 2-1 lead.
But the Bulls would open up the next period in dramatic fashion. On the power-play at 3:18 in the third, Cody Carlson would feed the puck to Peter Sivak who slid it past Guggenberger, tying the game 2-2. It would be Sivak’s 19th goal of the season.
Both Nelson and Guggenberger would fight off multiple shots as the tie carried into the end of regulation. Nelson turned away 38 of 40 shots sent his way by Alaska.
Overtime would start off as a nail-biter for the Bulls. A Bobby Hughes shot was ultimately ruled a no-goal for Alaska, though play stopped for several minutes of heavy debate by on- and off-ice officials.
Nelson talked about the shot post-game:
“That’s a long way for a guy to skate and that’s a long way for a goalie to start thinking about the puck coming at you. And I felt it get a little piece of my glove and definitely heard it hit off the crossbar. So I knew it wasn’t in.”
After the shot was finally confirmed as a no-goal, Dean Ouellet would again find Sivak at the other end of the ice, and No. 91 would storm down the center of the ice and fire the puck past Guggenberger for the OT upsetter.
President and Head Coach Pat Curcio talked about the on-ice chemistry between Sivak and Ouellet:
“It’s been tough to find someone to pair Peter up with. And Dean has really taken the time to find a way to make some synergy between the two.”
The Bulls jetted back to California immediately after Sunday’s game to start preparing for a mid-week road game Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. against the Stockton Thunder.