Photos by Mike Hendrickson/SFBay
COW PALACE — On a night where he was featured as a bobblehead, Dean Ouellet gave the crowd something to cheer about.
Ouellet extended his points streak to four games, delivering the game-winning assist on Dale Mitchell’s overtime goal to lead the San Francisco Bulls to a 5-4 win over the Colorado Eagles.
After falling behind quickly in their last three games, the Bulls were the aggressors during their Wednesday night matchup with Colorado, jumping out to a 2-0 lead by the end of the first period.
After chasing the Alaska Aces for the entirety of the weekend series, Coach Pat Curcio said the team talked about getting off to better starts earlier in the match:
“We said as a group we are really tired of chasing teams all the time. We need to try to get out, especially in our rink where we got home ice advantage, and let teams chase us. I thought we did a really good job tonight.”
The Bulls’ newest acquisition, Ryan Garlock, put the Bulls on the scoreboard first by slinging a top-shelf goal with just one second left on a Bulls power play, assisted by Dylan King and Kalvin Sagert.
The goal was Garlock’s second of the season, scoring just once in eight games with the Condors.
Though Garlock hasn’t scored much this season, Curcio had nothing but praise for the veteran:
“Real lucky to pick him up. He’s a star in this league, and he probably shouldn’t even be in this league … We haven’t had a player of his caliber yet. He’s played over 400 games in the American League, and if you look at his points per game in our league there’s not a player on our team that’s ever played for us that’s done what he’s done.”
Luke Judson scored his fourth goal of the season shortly after, receiving assists from Chris Crane and Scott Langdon to put the Bulls up 2-0 at the end of the first.
After being dominated by San Francisco throughout the first period, the Eagles set the tone for what would be a physical second period early. A hard check knocked a piece of glass loose, delaying the game.
The Eagles never let off the gas, making the most of their first power play of the period when forward Alex Hudson got past Beskorowany for their first goal of the contest.
The Bulls simply couldn’t convert on opportunities during the second, looking sluggish on both ends of the ice.
After failing to score on a 5-on-3 power play, the Bulls quickly gave up a wrist shot to Eagles defenseman Mark Nemec, who tied the game at 2-2 at the 12:30 mark.
Continuing the Eagles’ offensive surge was Kevin Ulanski, who gave Colorado their first lead of the game. Ulanski made it 3-2 with a top-shelf goal to beat Beskorowany, assisted by Kyle Ostrow.
Jordan Morrison stemmed the tide by tying the game up at 3-3 for the Bulls with just 15 seconds in the second period, assisted by Brett Findlay and Dale Mitchell.
While the Bulls outshot the Eagles 18-to-13 during the second, Colorado looked to have found their rhythm on offense, challenging the Bulls for most of the frame.
Morrison’s triumph was short-lived, as he lazily handed over the puck to Kyle Ostrow in front of the Bulls net to give Ostrow an easy wrister that put the Eagles back ahead with a 4-3 advantage.
But the Bulls responded for the second straight time, as Riley Brace displayed some fancy stick work along the wing to beat his defender and Eagles goalie Adam Brown to tie the game back up at 4-4.
Although Brace’s athletic goal was just enough to give the Bulls life heading into overtime, he said there was never any sense that the game was getting away from them:
“In my short time here, I’ve realized that there’s big momentum swings with this team, and we just gotta stay calm. We had four goals in a minute and 30 seconds or something like that last weekend and when other teams come back on us like that we know we have the firepower to score off the rush.”
The star of the night would have his time to shine, as Ouellet slung a cross-ice pass to Dean Mitchell who wristed it in for the game-winning goal.
The Bulls win slowed the Eagles’ recent dominance, who came into the night 5-1-0-0 against San Francisco on the season.
The Bulls head to Bakersfield to take on the Condors Friday for the first of a two game road-trip. They return to the Cow Palace Thursday, January 30 to face the Stockton Thunder at 7:30 p.m.