(photo: San Francisco Bulls)
The San Francisco Bulls faced the Bakersfield Condors with a refreshed offense that delivered a 5-1 victory for the goal-deprived Bulls. The new additions of Adrian Foster and Tyler Gron brought a breath of life to the forward lines, and new Dman Kalvin Sagert delivered a solid performance at the blueline, helping the Bulls to break out at key moments of the game. Tyler Gron showed why he had captured Coach Curcio’s eye turning in two top notch goals and registering an assist for his first night in a Bulls sweater.
Dean Ouellet broke the scoring drought seven minutes into the first period, when he picked up a beautiful feed from Adrian Foster coming into the Bakersfield zone on the power play. He fired off a shot from the left circle that went by Condors netminder Chet Pickard to put the Bulls ahead 1-0.
Chris Collins would score the lone goal for Bakersfield in the second frame on a broken play that had Bulls tender Beskorowany venture out of his net to play the puck. He couldn’t get good wood and the puck skittered out to the waiting stick of Collins who tucked it behind Beskorowany to tie the game 1-1.
The Bulls would go on to score 4 unanswered goals. Tyler Gron went coast to coast and put it top shelf. Then Dylan King shot one through traffic off a deflection from Chris Crane, giving him his first goal of the year. Brett Findlay added another goal when Tyler Gron carried the puck into the Bakersfield zone, passed it to Jordan Morrison who cruised around the back of the net, at first faking a stuff to the side, then sent it ahead to Findlay in the slot, who one-timed it past Pickard. Gron picked up one more goal as he flew down the middle, pulled the puck to the side and then tipped it past Pickard’s shoulder, the final tally 5-1.
The two new forwards Foster and Gron added a new dimension to the Bulls’ front line. Foster delivered solid support and generated plays that led to good scoring opportunities for the team. Gron drove the net with intensity and carried momentum into the offensive zone. Head Coach Pat Curcio talked earlier in the week about getting more production out of his veteran forwards, Ouellet, Belan and Morrison, who in particular has had a rough set of games over the last three, with a -15.
“We expect big things and we had some real good talks. We are trying to find different ways to help them out of this funk. We need to surround Morrison with some better players, players that know the league and can help.”
At least from the look of things, tumbling the lines and pairing Ouellet with Foster and Morrison with Gron worked well for all players involved, including Brett Findlay, who turned on the jets and camped in front of the net, then scored a goal off Morrison’s feed. Curcio will need to rely on these forwards along with Chris Crane and Ron Linsmayer to get pucks in the net as both Dale Mitchell and Ryan McDonough are not expected back in the line-up til at least December. There is always the possibility too that the Worcester Sharks will send down another forward, depending on the health of their line-up and who the NHL San Jose Sharks pull in.
One area that the Bulls need to shore up, which will help their offensive production, is their faceoff. It all starts with puck possession and teams that don’t win faceoffs spend a lot of time and energy hunting down the puck, rather than scoring goals. When asked about the Bulls faceoff numbers, Curcio concurred that the numbers they were winning weren’t great.
“I would say we are probably in the 30th percentile, which is not very good. We need to get the puck at least half the time. When you are starting with the puck you are able to make plays. Faceoffs are real important especially with special teams, on the power play. When we win a power play faceoff we get puck possession right away and if we lose it we’re chasing it 200 feet and then worry about coming out of our end.”
This week in morning practice, Curcio dedicated time to the faceoff, making minor adjustments to hopefully improve the chances of winning the draw. More wins on the dot may translate into more wins for the team.
The San Francisco Bulls take on the Bakersfield Condors on Wednesday 7:30 at the Cow Palace to finish their home and home series against their division rivals. They then head on the road over the Thanksgiving weekend, traveling to Utah to face the Grizzlies for a two game series.