COW PALACE — There was a feeling of de ja vu in the air when forward Dean Ouellet scored the first goal of the San Francisco Bulls home opener against the Bakersfield Condors Friday night.
But that’s as far as history would repeat itself in the Bulls raucous tilt.
The home team — clad in swanky new black jerseys and entering the arena to a frenzy of pyrotechnics — emerged aggressive and victorious before the crowd of 5,218, topping the Condors 2-1.
Ouellet addressed the fierce nature of the team’s play, saying it was something that was lacking on the Bulls’ long road trip:
“I think during the long road trip, one of our things (was that) we didn’t play sixty minutes. And I think tonight, we did for the most part, and I think we’ve just got to build off that.”
Starting goaltender Tyler Beskorowany picked up his third win of the season with 34 saves in tip-top form. Bulls Head Coach Pat Curcio was very complimentary of the young goalie, who entered the game ranked third in the league in saves:
“He’s an All-Star goalie. … He’s a calming factor back there, he’s a leader. And when you have him in net there, you know that even if there’s a mistake that there’s a good chance that he’s going to make the save.”
Ouellet got the game started with 8:29 on the clock in the first. No. 45 cut across the middle of Bakersfield territory and lined a beautiful shot straight out of goaltender Andy Chiodo’s view. It was his Ouellet’s first goal of the season, and he said it was a relief to get it after seven games without scoring:
“You always want to help the team out. The puck wasn’t bouncing for us on the road, so just getting the first one either way feels pretty good.”
Riley Brace and Dylan King tallied assists on the goal that gave the Bulls the 1-0 lead.
The puck stayed primarily in Bakersfield’s zone at the start of the first, but the Condors turned up the heat towards the end of the opening stanza, giving Beskorowany and the defense plenty of work. But the Bulls kept the Condors from capitalizing.
The winning goalie smiled when he spoke favorably of the D-lines that played in front of him:
“They blocked a lot of shots… They made my night a lot easier!”
Kyle Bigos added to the Bulls lead at 1:12 in the second period with a one-timer that bee-lined its way past Chiodo’s right arm, giving the home time a 2-0 advantage.
San Francisco got into penalty trouble but looked solid on the kill. But at the end of their third penalty kill, Condor Wes Cunningham shot the puck through traffic and into the Bulls net, closing the lead to 2-1 with 1:12 left before the second intermission.
The teams stayed neck-and-neck in shots during the very aggressive third period, but defense prevailed on both ends of the ice. Even with the puck predominantly in the Bulls defensive zone in the last two minutes of regulation, Beskorowany and company prevented the dreaded late-game tie.
The Bulls will have to take that momentum into Stockton to battle the Thunder on the road on Monday, November 11. They return to the Cow Palace for a three-game homestand starting Friday, November 15 against the Idaho Steelheads. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Riley Brace registered his first point in a Bulls uniform (on Dean Ouellet’s goal)…Kyle Bigos and Scott Langdon were a team-high +2… Dale Mitchell led the team in shots with 7… Mitchell was helped off the ice in the third period after suffering a back spasm after a missed goal. As of post game, he had been taken to the hospital for further evaluation.