Bulls thank huge final crowd with stinker

COW PALACE — Sports fans, from the looks of the stands at the San Francisco Bulls game Friday night, you wouldn’t have known that the Bay Bridge Series was taking place mere minutes away at AT&T Park.

A whopping 6,034 turned out to dance, drink, and cheer until they were hoarse for the Bulls final home game of the 2013 regular season. And it would be a fight-loaded, penalty-heavy matchup against the third place Idaho Steelheads, who would down the home team 5-0.

President and Head Coach Pat Curcio summed up the frustrating loss:

“I didn’t like the goals that went in. I didn’t like the officiating. I thought there were times that we played well, and there were times that we needed some breaks to go the other way to get some momentum, we didn’t get it. … It sucks losing.”

Idaho’s Ben Ondrus would get the first goal at 10:43 in the first period, as the puck would almost “float” past Taylor Nelson’s left glove to put the opposition on the board 1-0.

In response to the rival goal, Bulls captain Scott Langdon would drop his gloves and take some aggression out on Steelhead Mike Towns’ face.

Not long after the two were sent to the box with five-minute-fighting, a scrum just left of the Bulls’ goal would see multiple fights that would send Mikael Tam and Idaho’s Stever Ferry to the box as well.

The Bulls would kill off three penalties total in the first, and head into the first intermission down by only one point. Idaho would put Nelson to work, outshooting San Francisco 15-7.

The scuffles and penalties would continue into the second period.

While San Francisco would maintain the perfect penalty kill, Idaho’s Adrian Foster would chip the puck past Nelson’s left side, putting the visitors up 2-0 at 15:12.

San Francisco would kick off the third period with another fight — courtesy of Dylan King — and another goal by Idaho at 2:59, putting the home team in the hole 3-0.

The Steelheads would strike again with a power play goal by James Isaacs at 4:42.

Following the fourth goal, San Francisco would then pull Nelson and put Travis Fullerton between the pipes. But not long after the change, Foster would skate up to the blue paint and knock in his second goal of the night, giving the opposition the 5-0 lead.

The next several minutes of play would be peppered with penalties on the Bulls, as Idaho would rack up a total of 10 power play opportunities for the whole game.The 5-0 deficit would carry into the end of regulation, with Idaho dominating in shots on goal 37-23.

If there was a silver lining for the game, it was how good the Bulls looked on the penalty kill. Curcio said post-game:

“The PK was great. If there were any positives to take out of tonight, it’s getting primed for the playoffs, that’s for sure. Those are the guys who will be killing penalties. . . but it’s frustrating. We got two power plays, they got ten.”

The Bulls found a way to end their last home game on a happy note instead of a completely sour one when Curcio would take center ice to hand out Player Awards to cap off the season:

  • Kris Belan, back from the AHL, would receive the Rookie Of The Year award
  • Dylan King would be given the Most Improved Player Award
  • MVP honors went to Dean Ouellet
  •  Offensive Player Of The Year Award would go to The Most Interesting Bull In The World, Peter Sivak
  •  Scott Langdon would skate away Defensive Player Of The Year and Fan Favorite.

 

With the regular season all but over — only a roadie in Bakersfield Saturday night remains — playoff hockey will fire up at the Cow Palace starting the second week of April.

The San Francisco Bulls will take on the conference-leading Alaska Aces in the ECHL Quarterfinals starting Saturday, April 5 up in Anchorage. They will return to San Francisco for Game 3 on Thursday, April 11. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m.