COW PALACE — The friendly homecoming was definitely over at the San Francisco Bulls game on St. Patty’s Sunday.
What started looking like a potential repeat of Saturday night’s Bulls’ win over the visiting Utah Grizzlies would unravel in the third period as the visitors would come back and win 6-2.
President and Head Coach Pat Curcio said post-game:
“We got complacent, we thought it was going to be easy. We fell asleep. Very disappointed with the effort after that.”
The Bulls would get on the board first and early, courtesy of a power play goal by Christian Ouellet at 3:12 that Utah goaltender Ben Meisner would couldn’t stop despite sliding into the splits. Mikael Tam and Simon Danis-Pepin would tally assists.
The one-goal lead would carry into the first intermission thanks to Taylor Nelson who would block, glove-save and otherwise roll on top of the puck.
Ouellet would strike again at 8:51 in the second period to give the home team the 2-0 advantage.
Utah would eventually get on the board, however, with a shot by Colin Vock over Nelson’s shoulder at 12:29, bringing the score to 2-1.
Jordan Clendenning would get his first goal against his former team with 2:31 left in the second, tying the game 2-2.
The tie would be brief as Vock would get his second goal of the game with less than a minute left in the period, giving Utah their first lead in the game 3-2.
The third period would start out ugly for the Bulls. The Grizzlies would score at :28 seconds and and rack up two power play goals at 1:05 and 5:36, bringing the score to 6-2.
With tension growing, the fights would begin to pile up.
With 4:19 left in regulation, a dog pile behind Utah’s net would result in two sets of fisticuffs, sending Tommy Grant, Christian Ouellet, Dean Ouellet, Mark Isherwood out of the game with 10-minute misconduct penalties.
Despite a late Bulls push, the 6-2 loss would stand. The Grizzlies’ win gives them a nine-point bulge over the Bulls for the 7th playoff spot, while the Bulls still hold an eight-point lead in the standings over Bakersfield, who lost 2-1 Sunday at Stockton.
Barring an unprecedented surge or collapse, the Bulls look headed for a five-game series with the top-seeded Alaska Aces in the first round of the ECHL Western Conference playoffs.
But before then, six more regular season games remain: Two at home against the Stockton Thunder this Friday and Saturday, then a big road game at Bakersfield on Sunday.
The Bulls then come home for two against Idaho before closing out the 2012-13 regular season on Saturday, Mar. 30 at Bakersfield.