Bulls End Season Early

By: Phillip Torres and Kahlil Najar

SAN FRANCISCO-The San Francisco Bulls, ECHL affiliate of the NHL San Jose Sharks, ended their season early after just 40 games. The franchise called it quits after a season and a half in San Francisco, playing their home games at the legendary Cow Palace.

The San Francisco Bulls sent out an email to its season ticket holders and loyal fans about the unfortunate news that the Bulls are ceasing operations. In the email, President and Head Coach of the Bulls Pat Curcio stated the following:

“We want to thank all of our fans for your support and loyalty over the last two seasons, It’s been such a memorable time here with you in San Francisco, and we’ve especially appreciated all of your positive feedback over the past week.”

Th Bulls were hoping to gain new ownership that would either keep them in San Francisco, or either move the team to Fresno or even Oakland. Once the deal could not be worked out, the Bulls had to cease operations on January 27, 2014.

With the season ending after just 40 games for the Bulls, the Sharks affiliate finished the season with a 15-20-5 record. The Bulls had made the playoffs in their inaugural season last season, and were on pace to doing so again this season. But, the team simply did not have the financial stability to keep things going.

Pat Curcio also said in the email, “At this point, the best thing to do financially is to reluctantly end the season. We will miss playing here, miss our fans, and miss this city.”

Curcio was the person responsible for bringing hockey back to the city of San Francisco, unfortunately, it only lasted for a season and a half. 



Bulls win 5-4 in overtime against Eagles

By: Phillip Torres and Kahlil Najar

DALY CITY-The San Francisco Bulls (14-19-4-1) hosted the Colorado Eagles (19-10-3-2) on Wednesday night at the legendary Cow Palace. The Bulls defeated the Eagles 5-4 in overtime on Dean Ouellet Bobble head night. It was a big win for the Bulls as they defeated a Colorado team that currently sits in second place in a very tough Mountain Western Division, only behind the Alaska Aces.

San Francisco started off hot as they put the first two goals on the board first to jump out to the 2-0 advantage in the first period. Ryan Garlock put the first puck in the net at 7:06 on a power play goal. Dylan King and Kalvin Sagert earned the assists on the power play goal. Garlock received the puck by he boards on the Eagles side of the ice. A quick slap shot got past the stick side of Colorado goaltender Adam Brown for the goal.

Luke Judson made it a 2-0 game with a backhand goal in front of the net at 10:47. Riley Brace and Scott Langdon earned the assists on the play.

 The second period was dominated by the Eagles as they scored three unanswered goals to open up the period. At 6:22 in the period Alex Hudson cut the deficit to 2-1 with a power play goal. Riley Nelson and Brock Nixon recorded the assists on the play. Nixon got the puck to Hudson, who missed on his first shot but snuck the puck into the net with a great second effort.

At 12:30 Mark Nemec  tied the game. Kyle Ostrow and Kevin Ulanski assisted on the play that seemed to have changed the momentum into the Eagles favor. Colorado took its first lead of the night with a goal by Ulanski at 16:23. Ostrow picked up the lone assist and Colorado held the 3-2 advantage until the wining seconds of the second period.

Jordan Morrison scored the “goal that changed the game,” according to head coach Pat Curcio with just 15 seconds remaining before the second intermission.

“It was a huge goal for us,” said Curcio.

“It was the goal that changed the game.”

Morrison’s goal tied the game at three and really gave the momentum back to the Bulls.

The third period consisted of both teams trading goals. Ostrow scored his 17th goal of the season, assisted by Dylan Hood, and Riley Brace scored on an unassisted goal 10:02 to tie the game at 4-4. The second half of the third period was a defensive struggle and the score at the end of regulation remained tied, 4-4.

The overtime period lasted a little over three minutes as Dale Mitchell sent the Bulls home happy with a game winning shot from Brett Findlay and Ouellet to send the Bulls off the ice with a 5-4 victory.

Ryan Garlock made his San Francisco Bulls debut Wednesday as he got into the city Wednesday morning. Curcio praised his new star player who scored a goal his first night on the job in a Bulls uniform.

“We’re extremely lucky to have Garlock,” Curcio said. “We haven’t had a player as talented as this guy ever play for us. He’s a star in this league”

The Bulls will be back on the ice on Friday January 17, 2014 as they will be hosted by the Bakersfield Condors. The puck will drop at 7:00 PM.

Bulls win in overtime thriller

By: Phillip Torres and Kahlil Najar

DAY CITY-The San Francisco Bulls (13-18-4-1) hosted the Alaska Aces (20-10-1-1) on Friday night at the Cow Palace. The Bulls rallied from an early 3-0 deficit to beat the Aces 6-5 in overtime. The victory evened up the three game weekend series at one win a piece and gave the Bulls a chance to win the series on Sunday.

Alaska started of hot as they opened up the scoring just 18 seconds into the contest. Eli Zuck scored his second goal of the season. The assists were earned by Tommy Mele and Peter Sivak. Sivak, the former San Francisco Bull had a huge game against his old team as he racked up four points on the night. He scored his tenth goal in an Alaska uniform at 13:37 in the first period to make it 2-0 Aces. Drew MacKenzie made it a 3-0 advantage with a goal of his own with assists from Ross Ring-Jarvi and Sivak.

The Bulls got red hot in the second period as they scored four goals within a span of 1:31. Jordan Morrison put the Bulls on the board first with his eighth goal of the season at 8:49. Brett Findlay and Dale Mitchell assisted on the play. Forty-two seconds later Mitchell scored a goal of his own on a power play. Mitchell put the puck right in the corner of the net on the glove side of goaltender Oliver Roy. The goal was assisted by Dean Ouellet and Eriks Sevcenko.

With the Bulls down just 3-2, Mitchell scored his second of the game seventeen seconds later to tie the game at three goals each. The play was assisted by Findlay. Findlay broke away with the puck and passed it to Mitchell at the last second as the defender could not get to the puck on time.

Ouellet scored the fourth goal within the span to give San Francisco its first lead of the night, making it 4-3 Bulls. Ouellet scored at 10:20 with assists from Sebastian Stalberg and Riley Brace.

Beskorowany appreciated the offensive explosion by his team in the second period.

“It was great,” the goaltender said.

“It was great to play with lead. We haven’t played with the lead for a while now and it was great to create some offense tonight,” Beskorowany said with a laugh.

Alaska tied the game with a goal from Tim Coffman past starting goaltender Tyler Beskorowany. Brad Richard slipped Coffman a nice past to earn the assist on the play.

Morrison capped the combined six goal second period with his second goal on the night and in the period. Beskorowany shot the puck back in after making a save to Mitchell deep down the ice and Mitchell flicked it quickly to Morrison as he put the puck on the net to give the Bull the 5-4 lead heading into the third period.  

The third period contained only one goal, and it came early as Sivak struck again to tie the game at five. Mele assisted Sivak on the play. The Bulls played stout defense as they defended the penalty kill great in this period.  Alaska threatened to score on a five on three power play late in the frame. The Bulls killed the penalty with Beskorowany making a couple of tremendous saves to save the game for San Francisco.

“That’s what won us the game,” head coach Pat Curcio said after the game.

“I don’t remember the last time having to kill a five on three power play two nights in a row.”

The score at the end of regulation was notched at five and the game went into overtime. Dean Ouellet put in the game winner exactly one minute into the overtime period with a put back goal into an empty net.

Morrison went in for the score but got tripped up with Roy on the side on the net. With a great second effort Morrison got the puck to Ouellet who tapped in the game winner and sent the Bulls off of the ice as 6-5 winners over Alaska.

“I really didn’t do much on the goal,” Ouellet said after the game.

“It was Morrison’s second effort that got me the puck and I had empty net right in front of me.”

The Bulls and Aces will finish the weekend series on Saturday. The puck will drop at 7:30 Pm at the Cow Palace.

Bulls lose big at home against Thunder

By: Phillip Torres and Kahlil Najar

DALY CITY-The San Francisco Bulls (12-17-3-1) hosted the Stockton Thunder (17-11-0-4) on Saturday night at the Cow Palace. Stockton defeated the Bulls 5-0 as goaltender Parker Milner pitched a shutout in the net. Saturday nights contest with the Thunder ended the five game consecutive game set between the two Pacific division rivals. The loss on Saturday was the third out of the five game set for the Bulls.

San Francisco was down early as James Henry scored at 7:58 in the first period to give Stockton the 1-0 advantage, and what figured to be the only goal they needed on the night. The Bulls could not get anything going offensively as key players Dean Ouellet and Jordan Morrison went down with injuries early.

When asked about how the team can bounce back and get a victory tomorrow night in Ontario coach Pat Curcio said jokingly, “We need five new players. “At this point we just need healthy bodies.”

Stockton would score two goals apiece in the next two periods to make it a comfortable win. Greg Miller and Lee Baldwin would score in the second period with assists form Mitch Bruijsten, Greg Miller, and Joey Martin, who assisted on both goals.

In the third period Bruijsten scored with less than one minute in to extend the lead to 4-0. Baldwin and Miller earned the assists on the score. The final goal was scored by Nathan Deck at 9:36 to put the icing on the cake. Garet Hunt earned the lone assist and Stockton sealed the game with a 5-0 victory to give them three in their past five games, all against the Bulls.

The Bulls will be back on the ice as they will face off with the Ontario Reign on Sunday at 3:00 PM in Ontario.


SF Bulls Make 4 Goal Comeback Against Stockton Thunder

By Mary Walsh

SAN FRANCISCO- Saturday, the San Francisco Bulls came back from a three-goal deficit to defeat the Stockton Thunder in a shootout. It was the third meeting of the season for the two teams. The first period ended tied at one, the second period ended 4-2. The teams went to a shootout tied at five goals apiece. Two of the Bulls’ goals were scored by Steven Tarasuk, his first two goals of the season. Also, there were teddy bears, lots of teddy bears tossed on the ice.

After the game, Head Coach Pat Curcio said:

From the beginning of the game tonight, we were much better than last night. I think our fans had a lot to do with it, it just gives our guys so much more energy and life out there. I thought in the second period, a couple of the mistakes that we made, it [was] unfair for us to be down 3-1. Obviously Scott Langdon got us on the board there, gave us some life and the guys just thought “if they scored three that quick, we can score three that quick.”

The game was a lot like the last game San Francisco played against Stockton: San Francisco was outshot, they fell behind by three goals, they pulled J.P. Anderson out and put Tyler Beskorowany in net mid-second period. The games were just alike, apart from four San Francisco goals scored in the second half of the game, three by defensemen.

Three and a half minutes of the first period went by before either team got a shot on goal, and then it was San Francisco’s shot. Stockton answered back quickly with two of their own, and then play was interrupted by a hit from Adrian Foster that left a Stockton player down for several seconds. A boarding call put the Bulls on the penalty kill. Stockton had two more shots on the power play but the Bulls’ penalty kill kept the game scoreless.

After 9:50, the Bulls still only had one shot on goal. This wasn’t an accurate reflection of zone time or scoring chances, which looked more even.

The Bulls also took the second penalty of the game, again to Foster, this time for high-sticking. At 14:03 of the first, Stockton scored on their eighth shot, a power play goal by Joey Martin from Corey Trevino and Matt Berglund.

At 13:29 of the period, Tyler Gron tied it up when three Bulls got the jump on the Stockton defense. The teddy bears flew, a significant improvement over last year’s teddy bear toss, when the Bulls didn’t score until the third period.

With 2:50 left in the period, Stockton’s Ryan Constant was called for cross-checking Dale Mitchell. The power play started out well enough, with a series of good chances during a long shift for San Francisco. The Bulls finally lost control of the puck and Stockton kept them from setting up again in the last few seconds of the penalty.

The period ended tied at one, with shots 10-8 for San Francisco.

During that first intermission, the Bulls thanked one of their most loyal fans, Misty. She will be moving to Florida this month and the Bulls aren’t likely to travel there often. The Bulls played a thank you message on the video cube.

The second period started quietly enough. With nearly four minutes gone in the period, Dale Mitchell and Stockton’s Mike Dalhuisen were called for roughing, putting the teams four on four. Neither team scored then, but at 6:31 of the period, Stockton’s Andrew Clark did, with a shot from the faceoff circle that beat Anderson on the far side. Assists went to Greg Miller and Garet Hunt. 33 seconds later, Stockton scored again. Goal by Alex MacLeod, unassisted.

In the next minute, the Bulls got a power play out of an interference penalty called on Larson. As the penalty expired, Stockton went the other way to put the puck in the net for the fourth time. James Henry’s shot got by Anderson but the goal was called off for goaltender interference.

The Thunder had to try again for that fourth goal a few minutes later, which Clark scored with another shot from the faceoff circle, beating Anderson on the far side. In both cases, Anderson had a player in front of him, but that was still four goals too many. Bulls Coach Pat Curcio replaced Anderson with Beskorowany.

A couple of minutes later, Scott Langdon scored his third of the season to make it 4-2. Assists went to Mitchell and Ouellet.

The period ended 4-2, with shots at 25-18, Stockton leading on both counts.

The first few minutes of the third dragged a bit, but at 3:57, Brett Findlay skated straight up the slot in the Thunders’ zone and shot the puck past Phillips to make it a one goal game. Assists went to Jordan Morrison and Steven Tarasuk.

Play picked up then, the teams trading aggressive forechecks, the goalies getting some work. Finally, Dylan King sent the puck along the blue line from one point to the other, where Tarasuk was waiting to slap it to the net. It made it through with help from a screen set by Chris Crane and Magomed Gimbatov. Assists went to Gimbatov and King.

The Bulls earned another power play with just under eight minutes left: a boarding call against James Henry. Half way through the power play, the Bulls gave up a short-handed chance but regrouped in time to go the other way again. A shot from the point gave the Bulls their first lead of the game. It was Tarasuk’s second goal of the game and the season. It was only the Bulls’ tenth shot of the period, and their third goal. Assists went to Kalvin Sagert and Gimbatov.

With under three minutes to go, Stockton tied it again and the game went to overtime tied 5-5. The goal was Mike Dalhuisen’s, with an assist from Clark.

A fast overtime period flew by without many whistles or breaks in play. The shootout went five rounds, with Dean Ouellet and Brett Findlay scoring for San Francisco and Joey Martin scoring for Stockton. Final score: 6-5 San Francisco.

For full game stats, visit the ECHL website.

Roster notes:

The last time the Bulls met the Thunder, Stockton won 5-1. Since then, the Bulls have lost Mark Lee to injury, but regained Dale Mitchell and acquired Tyler Gron. That isn’t unusual in the ECHL: roster turnover is pretty high, especially since they have to contend with a roster limit and salary cap.

Nonetheless, it is worth pausing to consider how many players have come or gone from the Bulls’ lineup since November 20. Kyle Bodie, Josh Kidd, Damon Kipp, Riley Emmerson and Rob Linsmayer had been traded away or gone to China. In their places, the Bulls acquired Kalvin Sagert, Adrian Foster, Magomed Gimbatov, and Berkley Scott. In short, the team has replaced almost one third of the roster. Half of the Bulls who scored against Stockton are not playing: Lee and Linsmayer. Worth noting, Tyler Gron did score against the Thunder this season, as a member of the Idaho Steelheads, on November 24.

For Stockton’s part, two players arrived December 11 from the AHL: defenseman Mike Dalhuisen and left wing Nick Larson. Dalhuisen played seven games with the Thunder this season, this was Larson’s first game in the ECHL.

Bulls let one Slip against Steelheads

By Phillip Torres

DAILY CITY-The San Francisco Bulls (4-5-2-0) hosted the Idaho Steelheads (5-4-1-1) on Friday night at the Cow Palace. The Bulls  were defeated 4-3 in a shootout. Idaho tied the game with at three goals apiece with less than 40 seconds remaining in regulation before winning the contest via the shootout.

The Bulls took the early 1-0 advantage with a goal from Rob Linsmayer. the score was assisted by Kyle Bigos and Brett Findlay. The Steelheads tied up the contest late in the first period after Justin Mercier scored a goal at the 19:01 mark. It was his fourth goal of the season and it went unassisted.

The second period seen both the Steelheads and the Bulls add another goal apiece. Idaho took the 2-1 advantage at 5:58 with an unassisted goal by Mitch Wahl. San Francisco tied up the contest at 2-2 after Dean Ouellet put the puck in the net past Idaho goaltender Josh Robinson. Damon Kipp earned the assist on the play.

The third period was similar to the first two periods in the game. Bigos gave the Bulls their first lead since early in the first quarter with a goal early in the frame. Mark Lee and Dylan King assisted on the the go a head goal. San Francisco’s lead lasted throughout the third period until less than 40 seconds left in regulation.

With the overtime period going scoreless, the game was summed to a shootout. Anthony Nigro knocked in the game winning goal to send the Bulls home with a tough loss.

Head Coach and Bulls’ Owner Pat Curcio said after the game that “We need to learn how to finish.”

If the Bulls are going to get back into the playoffs this year, that’s exactly what they will need to learn how to do throughout this season that is still young.

The Bull’s will be back on the ice Saturday Night against the same Idaho Steelheads. The puck will drop at the Cow Palace at 7:30 PM.

SF Bulls Are Back, Moving Forward

By Mary Walsh

Seven players have returned to the San Francisco Bulls for a second season. Team Captain Scott Langdon, forward Kris Belan and defenseman Dylan King all signed again early in ECHL free agency. Last week, Dean Ouellet and Jordan Morrison returned from a stint in the Kazakh league to rejoin the Bulls. Christian Ouellet and Brett Findlay, rookies who impressed last season, are also back.  These players are not the only ones showing confidence in the San Francisco Bulls organization.

The San Jose Sharks renewed their affiliation with the Bulls in late August, but they had already given the organization a significant stamp of approval last season. They sent seven prospects to San Francisco from Worcester, including five skaters. This season, Bulls President and Head Coach Pat Curcio expects the Sharks to continue sending prospects to the ECHL:

We could have possibly ten guys from [the Sharks]. They signed a lot of players, and they signed them with the intention [that they will] have a place to put them. So our relationship’s been great and I’m real excited.

The Sharks are happy with the arrangement as well. In their August press release about the renewed affiliation, GM Doug Wilson explained: “We had an extremely positive relationship with the Bulls last season as a development vehicle for players within our system and we look forward to continuing that agreement.” -San Jose Sharks

Prior to their affiliation with the Bulls, the Sharks used the ECHL primarily for goaltender development. The Sharks have the option of using many places to develop players, including Canadian Junior leagues and university programs. The AHL has no cap and no roster limit, so in theory a team could use an AHL team to stash all their prospects without regard to whether there was room on the ice for them or not. Of course, that is not ideal. It is far better to have a pro hockey environment where your prospects can play a lot of minutes.

On the other hand, teams don’t want want to send young talent into a meat grinder. The ECHL is shedding a reputation for being a lawless slug-fest, and becoming a league where talent can be showcased and developed. That San Jose felt confident enough to send so many players to San Francisco in its first season speaks very well for the Bulls.

It also speaks well for the ECHL, as other NHL teams are also investing more talent in the Triple A league. The ECHL is an increasingly viable stepping stone in pro hockey development. In theory, this could also improve the level of play in the AHL, by giving less experienced players a different team to develop with. AHL players could come to the NHL more ready for having been in a system tailored to the needs of experienced prospects.

While the team has bolstered its connection to the AHL and the NHL, the Bulls still have a grass-roots element. In mid-September, the team held open tryouts. From that group, Anthony Taylor was chosen to participate in the team’s main training camp. He will also play in at least one pre-season game. The tryouts gave the Bulls a chance to scope out available talent that they might need through the season, as Curcio explains:

You’re going to need players that are readily available at the drop of a hat. If a player gets injured on a Thursday night and [someone] has to fly out Friday to Worcester or San Jose, it’s hard to find a player over night. You need some good players that are local.

The Bulls will play two pre-season games at the Cow Palace, on Thursday, October 10 and Saturday, October 12. Puck drop at 7:30 pm. Their regular season home opener will be on Friday, November 8 against the Bakersfield Condors.