COW PALACE — Coming off a 4-2 victory in Stockton Friday night, the San Francisco Bulls looked destined for another close-knit tilt against their NorCal rival.
But the home team couldn’t solve netminder Parker Milner (32 saves) and the rest of the Thunder on Country Western Night, as the Bulls got beat up and shut out 5-0.
The Bulls opened the game up strong, but, as head coach Pat Curcio explained, too many penalties and the loss of two men up front due to injury made things difficult:
“We lost Jordan Morrison, we lost Dean Ouellet early in the game, and then all of a sudden, and we were already down forwards. Then when you get down and then you have to kill all those penalties it’s tough. Tough to win a hockey game.”
A turnover in the Bulls defensive zone landed the puck in Stockton possession midway through the opening frame, and they peppered J.P Anderson with shots. Forward James Henry got his stick on a rebound in the blue paint and chipped it past Anderson to give Stockton a 1-0 lead at 7:58.
San Francisco had some great shifts and continued to match Stockton in shots, but Milner was on point making every save.
The Thunder capitalized again in the second period. In another flurry of shots in front of Anderson, Greg Miller found the back of San Francisco’s net, putting the home team in the hole 2-0.
Penalty trouble plagued San Francisco for the remainder of the second period. Momentum kept the puck floating around the Bulls’ goal, and Ouellet exited the game at the end of SF’s second kill after taking a hard hit on the upper body from the puck. (As of the end of the game, there was still no word on Ouellet’s diagnosis or condition.)
The ongoing penalty kills began to wear the Bulls down. On the Thunder’s sixth man advantage, Lee Baldwin found room in another chaotic jumble in front of Anderson for a power play goal with 1:24 left in the frame to increase Stockton’s lead 3-0.
Curcio commented on another second period riddle with dances to the penalty box, thinking they were warranted:
“We had a feeling the referees were not going to do anything in our favor after last night. But… they were legitimate calls.”
36 seconds into the final period, another turnover in Bulls’ territory ended up in the back of San Francisco’s net. Mitch Bruijsten buried one to up Stockton’s advantage to 4-0.
Thunder defenseman Nathan Deck put the nail in the coffin with a goal during a line change at the end of Stockton’s final power play, sealing the 5-0 fate.
Curcio’s hope with the quick turnaround — the team hits the road over night to play in Ontario on Sunday — is to be able to put a full team on the ice:
“(We’re) just trying to get healthy bodies. If (Ouellet and Morrison) can’t play I don’t know what we’re going to do. … There’s a lot of transition right now.”
The Bulls will play Sunday in Ontario for a 3:00 p.m. matinee meeting with the Reign. They return to the Cow Palace on Thursday to start a three-game set hosting the Alaska Aces. Puck drop for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Chris Crane led the Bulls with seven shots on goal. …With the loss, Tyler Gron had his eight-game point streak snapped. … The Bulls were 0-2 on the power play, while the Thunder were 2-for-7 on the power play. … Stockton outshot San Francisco 42-32.