Steelheads squirm past Bulls in shootout
Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay
COW PALACE — It was a tight, rough-and-tumble tilt for the Bulls Friday night.
But despite taking an early lead and playing hard right up to the finish, San Francisco fell 4-3 in a shootout to the Idaho Steelheads.
Even with the late loss, Bulls Head Coach Pat Curcio wasn’t completely dissatisfied with how his team played:
“I’m happy with our efforts. … I like the way we play, I like our hard work. I’d like to see a little more skill, and sometimes when you add a little more skill you’re taking out the work ethic. We’ll take a point tonight, and hopefully we can learn from it. It’s a long year.”
It was the second time these two teams have met this season, and the second time that Idaho beat San Francisco after regulation. Curcio explained the frustration of the pattern:
“Something about this Idaho team, even going back to last year, they’ve always been games like this. One goal games with a minute left. Whether it’s a bad penalty or whatever it is we take, and give them opportunities to get back in the game. We need to be smarter, we’re giving points away that we don’t need to give away.”
Rob Linsmayer got hold of a rebound and beat Steelheads goaltender Josh Robinson at 1:03 into the opening period. Kyle Bigos and Brett Findlay tallied assists on Linsmayer’s first goal of the season.
Idaho tied the game with 58 seconds left in the first period when Steelhead Justin Mercier blocked a shot by Bigos and got a break going in the other direction. His shot eluded Beskorowany to make the score 1-1 before the first intermission.
The Steelheads took a 2-1 lead with a power play goal by Mitch Wahl at the 5:58 markin the second period. But the Bulls wouldn’t let the visitors maintain the lead; it was Dean Ouellet to the rescue with a shot past Robinson’s view tying the game 2-2.
Not long after the goal, Scott Langdon dropped his gloves and duked it out with Idaho’s Carl Sneep. Teams skated four-on-four at the end of the second period with no break in the tie.
Bigos put the Bulls back on top with a shot from the right point that rebounded off the post and ended up in Idaho’s net, putting the home team back on top 3-2.
Following an incredible save by Beskorowany with less than two minutes to play, there a lot of pushing and shoving in front of San Francisco’s net. Langdon’s stick drew blood, and he was sent off the ice with a four minute high-sticking double minor, forcing the Bulls to play a man short for the last 1:45 of regulation.
Wahl then scored his second goal of the night with :36 left on the clock, tying the game 3-3 and taking it into overtime.
Curcio talked about the tying goal scored on Beskorowany, a former Steelhead, by his old team:
“I’m sure Beskorowany would like that shot back. He knew where the puck was coming from, it found him glove side. (And everyone on this) team knows him real well.”
Despite good looks by both teams, the tie held through overtime, and the game advanced to the shootout. The Steelheads out-matched the Bulls four shots to three, halting the home team 4-3.
Silver lining? The Bulls get another chance at the Steelheads tomorrow night. When asked what the team could do to improve on Friday’s performance, Curcio explained:
“We’ve got to figure out a way to stop their power play. We talked about that all day today, we talked about it before the game. Penalties are going to happen… Our penalty kill has got to get better.”
The San Francisco Bulls and Idaho Steelheads meet back up Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.