Bulls can’t top rival Stockton in final battle

COW PALACE — Rivalry weekend came to a close Saturday night, in front of quite possibly the rowdiest, most energetic crowd of 3,892 the Cow Palace has hosted in the San Francisco Bulls inaugural season.

Whether it was the support for the home team or the excitement LGTBQ night, the masses were as loud as ever as they watched the final 60 minutes that the Bulls would face the Stockton Thunder in 2013.

The Thunder won 4-1, but it would be a hard-fought, push-til-the-end battle. Happy with how his team played in the long run, President and Head Coach Pat Curcio talked about what he saw out of the Bulls Saturday night:

“I was really impressed with the guys because that could have turned into a game that–our fans would have really been upset going home tonight. I thought the effort was there. The fans were happy, we were happy. I thought we battled, we wanted to hit, we wanted to fight, we wanted to do all those things and they wanted no part of it.”

Stockton would strike first at 10:30 in the opening period. Taylor Nelson would slide into the splits but be unable to keep Cameron Abney from sliding the puck from passing under his left leg, giving the Thunder the early 1-0 advantage.

Thunder rookie Andrew Clark would get his first professional goal putting the puck back in the net with :29 left in the period, with a shot that Nelson would fall to his side to try to block.

The 2-0 deficit would not be indicative of the Bulls’ efforts, as the puck would spend most of the time in rival territory.

The second period would open up with another goal by Clark at 4:00, putting the Bulls in the 3-0 hole.

But at 8:58, Bulls’ rookie winger Nick Czinder would weave his way up the ice and knock the puck past Stockton goaltender Olivier Roy. It would be Czinder’s first professional goal, and would put the home team on the board 3-1. Daultan Leveille would pick up the assist.

Stockton would open up the third period with a goal off a rebound by Clark, giving him the hat trick and bringing the score to 4-1 at :46.

The Bulls would rally to put more points on the board, even putting captain Scott Langdon in as a forward. Curcio said the change would invigorate the Bulls’ play in the third period:

“He’s a leader, he’s our captain. He’ll do whatever it takes for the team, and he welcomed it. He came up and I thought he did a great job.”

Despite the third period push and ultimately out-shooting the Thunder 29-24, the score would stand 4-1. But instead of dwelling on the loss, Curcio and the Bulls will use it as fuel in the last few games before the playoffs:

“It’s confirmed that we’re playing Alaska. We need to get through the next four games, and just keep getting better. It’s tough to lose, but if you lose and learn I think that’s the important thing. I think tonight there was lots we can learn from.”

Not much rest for the San Francisco Bulls as they hit the road to face the Condors down in Bakersfield for a Sunday matinee. They will return to the Cow Palace for their second-to-last home game on Wednesday. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m.