San Francisco, CA–Tonight after being on the road for the first three weeks of the 2013-2014 ECHL season, the San Francisco Bulls finally returned home to it’s fan’s to take on the Bakersfield Condors. During that span away from the Cow Palace, the Bulls registered a 2-5-1-0 record. Tonight’s contest was only the Bulls second home opener in their young franchise history.
In their first season in the league, the Bulls took on the Condors on October 12th 2012. That matchup featured a 4-3 defeat in front of a capacity crowd of 8,277.
Going into the contest against their So Cal rivals, the Bulls were 7-4-1 against the Bakersfield Condors lifetime dating back the span of their inaugural season in the ECHL.
The Bulls organization had a special night as they debut their much anticipated new third sweater that is very similar to that of the San Jose Sharks Black Armor version. San Francisco had a special guest on hand to add to their home opener kick off, Mayor Ed Lee took part in hockey tradition as he dropped the ceremonial puck down on Cow Palace ice.
In the early stages of the first period, both squads spent most of the part trying figure one another out.
11:31 of the opening period, Bulls star forward Dean Ouellet finally snapped is 18 game goal drought that included the first eight games of the season and 10 in the last. His tally, broke the 0-0 deadlock when his backhander beat the Bakersfield’s net minder Andy Chiodo. D. Ouellet’s goal, marked it his first of the season. His goal was assisted by Worcester Sharks forward Riley Brace and Bulls blue liner Dylan King.
Brace is playing with the Bulls organization as the AHL club loaned him to San Francisco for the time being.
After that goal by Dean Ouellet, it woke up the visiting Condors as they applied pressure into San Francisco’s end throughout the rest of the first period. The good news for San Francisco was the sharp play by net minder Tyler Beskorowany who ended up stopping all 13 shots he faced in the opening frame.
In the early stages of the second stanza, the Bulls picked up right where they off as California native from Upland Kyle Bigos pumped it home past the Bakersfield Chiodo, thus extending San Francisco lead to 2-0. Bigos registered his first goal of the season at 1:12.
At the 15:34 mark on the middle frame San Francisco when Riley Emmerson was caught with a boarding minor, giving the Condors the games first man advantage opportunity. During the opening phase of the Condors power play, the Bulls penalty kill unit went to work with authority. In doing so, they denied Bakersfield from setting up their special teams unit.Their hard work paid off as they protected their 2 goal lead.
Moments after the Bulls successfully killed of their first penalty of the contest, the Condors got one of their own when Joe Marciano made a bad decision in front of the Bulls net. For his efforts he was charged with a cross checking minor. Much like the Bulls penalty kill situation, they too were unable to establish their attack.
The penalty parade continued for San Francisco when forward Chris Crane was given a high sticking minor. By doing that, it gave the ECHL officials some work with the penalty box doors. Again, Bakersfield was unable to convert on the man advantage as San Francisco’s penalty kill unit stepped for the second time, keeping the Condors off the score sheet.
As the period went on, the Bulls penalty troubles came front and center when Damon Kipp marched off to the sin bin for San Francisco’s third penalty of the game. San Francisco’s penalty kill unit answered to call once again, causing some frustration into Bakersfield.
Immediately following the penalty kill by San Francisco, the Condors finally broke thru when Wes Cunnigham fired the puck from the right point that beat Tyler Beskorowany, thus ending his shutout bid and made it a 2-1 Bulls lead.
Not long after Bakersfield got themselves on the board, they were undisciplined as their player Kyle Haines got an interference minor. So San Francisco went to work again to try and get one on the man advantage. Just like their previous opportunities, they ended up coming away empty handed.
The final period of play began somewhat similar to that of the first, only this time, keeping both goalies busy with some that would be considered as highlight reel saves.
Later in the third, the Condors were sloppy in the neutral zone and ended up getting caught with a tripping penalty that was assessed to Bakersfield’s Michael Neal. San Francisco tried to set up their attack on the man advantage but encounter resistance as the Condors denied the Bulls to regain their two goal cushion they lost in the games prior period.
As the period lead on, things got very chippy when Chris Crane drove Steffes into the boards in Bakersfield’s end. After the play, Cunningham of the Condors did not like and took a shot at Crane. In doing so, Crane got the boarding minor and Cunnigham received his roughing penalty for retaliation. This put four skaters aside for the first time of the contest. Each team could not capitalize on the four on four situation and the score remained at 2-1 San Francisco.
In the late stages of third, a major scare ensued after Dale Mitchell of San Francisco went in hard on a scoring opportunity into the Condors end. Mitchell ended up getting taken down by a Bakersfield back checker, following the play, he was down on the ice for quite some time. Moments after Mitchell was carted off the ice by his fellow teammates.
This did not shake the Bulls up at all and so they pressed on with the rest of the game.
In the dying minute of the game, Bakersfield pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. The Condors tried everything that included throwing the kitchen sink at Beskorowany, but he was up for the challenge and helped the Bulls secure their first ever home opening victory in franchise history over Bakersfield. Beskorowany turned away 33 of 34 shots he faced in front of 5,218 screaming Bulls fans.
After the game, Pat Curcio held his traditional press conference with the media as he updated the situation on Dale Mitchell’s injury that he suffered in the contest final period.
“He tweaked his back from what we saw, there sending him to the hospital now, to find out a little bit more, probably a MRI and some X-rays to see what the problem is.” Said Curcio
Coach Curcio talked about the need for his club to play the full 60 minutes for this season’s campaign.
“Our five on five game has been real good, I think even on the road here, on the roadtrip, other than a couple games we gave up a few goals, the majority of the momentum was taken because of our pk.” Curcio Mentioned. “Tonight our pk was good and our five on five play was good. I think this team, if we can get our power play a little more effective were going to score more goals it gives us a little more breathing room out there.” Added Curcio.
Pat went out to describe the newest member between the pipes and performance of goaltending star, Tyler Beskorowany.
“He’s an all star goalie, I spoke to him last week and I said, you know, he’s one of the situations where sometimes players start at the top and they end up down, but he did not start up at the top because he wasn’t talented enough and skilled enough, he definitely is and if he comes here, he’s an all star, he’s going to get his opportunity in the big leagues.” Mentioned Curcio.
The Bulls head coach praised his team’s overall performance, regardless of the series of discipline breakdowns that occurred in the games middle frame.
“We worked hard, I mean trying to be as humbled as I can, 2-1 I mean we had three breakaways in the second period that could have been easily 4 or 5-1, their goaltender played real well, he’s an NHL product, he played in the NHL, I believe he’s a high pick twice, so you can see why they brought him in, he made a big difference I think the score could have been we could have a little more breathing room going into the third.” Coach said.
San Francisco Bulls head coach described what bringing down Riley Brace for the Worcester Sharks adds to his club’s depth in particular on the power play.
“Brace, well you can see the skill on him, we think he’s still a baby he’s just learning how to play. His patience and his ability to see the ice, its NHL skill and that’s why he signed by the Sharks and I think he’s coming into stride here right now, we haven’t really seen what he’s capable of doing yet but you know I said he may play the point on the power play on the first unit and forward up front on the second, that’s how high I think of this guy and got a lot of potential.” Said Curcio.
Bulls Curcio provided his compliment regarding the patience Dean Ouellet had on his home opening goal.
“I was yelling from the bench to shoot the puck,” Curcio said. “He out-patiented me and went to his backhand and scored, so we’ll let the skilled guys do their thing.”
Bulls star forward Dean Ouellet who had been on an 18 game goal scoring drought commented about finally getting back on the scoresheet for his hockey club.
“Well it was a play I think Bracer just chipped it to me in the zone, I saw Parnzie going down the right side, I thought about passing it, I just cut down the middle and he was going to net, so I just tried to put on net and it went in.” Said Ouellet.
Ryan Bayer Bay Sport Report Sharks Reporter @81Bayer
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