Bulls snatch shootout win from Grizzlies


COW PALACE — Snoop Dogg complained in a stanza of “Gin & Juice” about there being “too much drama in the L.B.C.”

In which case, I know he wouldn’t have been able to handle the drama at the Cow Palace Sunday.

Because the San Francisco Bulls laid the drama on thick with a come-from-behind, down-to-the-last-second battle that ended in a 4-3 shootout win.

And by down-to-the-second, we’re talking about a game-tying goal within the last second of regulation.

President and Head Coach Pat Curcio talked about the suspense of watching the goal that would take the game beyond regulation:

“I was just hoping that there was still time on the clock. It happened so fast. . . I was just hoping they would throw it into the net.”

Saturday night’s drama carried over into the first period of Sunday’s matchup. San Francisco would score first and score early, with a goal by Kris Belan, assisted by Andrew Crescenzi and Jamie Devane, at only 2:57 into the period.

Utah would respond with a goal by Mitch Wahl to bring the game to a 1-1 tie. The teams would leave the ice at the end of the period with tied, with the Bulls outshooting the Grizzlies 14-5.

Neither team would score in the second period. The Bulls, however, would continue to outshoot Utah; 11-8 for the middle period, 25-13 for the first two frames.

Coach Curcio commented on his team’s rapid-fire shots on goal against the opposition in all three home games this weekend:

“I’ve been arguing with everyone. . . there are three keys. First thing you need to do is outshoot a team. The second thing you need to do is have more power plays than the other team, and that means you’ve got to be disciplined. And the third thing you need to do is you’ve got to try to score the first goal. If you do all three of those, you’ve got a good chance of winning.”

In what was about to be a very eventful third, the Grizzlies would strike first with a goal by right wing Bryan Cameron, with assistance from Mitch Wahl and Riley Armstrong, at 8:24 in the period. Armstrong would then put the puck in the Bulls’ net, with help from Wahl and Nick Tuzzolino, to give the Grizzlies a 3-1 lead.

The Grizzlies wouldn’t maintain their two-point lead for long, as not even a minute later San Francisco right wing Peter Sivak, assisted by Justin Bowers and Sacha Guimond, would bring the deficit to 3-2 with 2:03 left in regulation.

Hopefully nobody in the crowd of 3,208 blinked within the next two minutes of play, or they would have missed Sacha Guimond’s shot that would go to Justin Bowers, who would then redirect the puck into the Grizzlies net just as the buzzer sounded to end regulation. Tied game, 3-3, going into overtime.

Bowers talked about the epic, game-changing goal afterwards:

 “The puck came right to me and I re-directed it with my skate. . . They just changed the rule, I think last year or the year before, that you could re-direct the puck with your skate. You can’t kick it in. So the refs made a big call there. . .”

And the drama didn’t stop there!

Neither team could score in overtime, forcing a shootout. Dean Ouellet would get the game-winning shot, and the Bulls would end their three-game home stand with a 4-3 victory.

Said Bowers of winning the shoot-out:

“We showed a lot of heart, coming back. . . To win in a shoot-out is great. It’s great for the fans. Great for San Francisco.”

So, the post-game plan? Coach Curcio said:

“We’ll enjoy this win tonight. And then we’re regrouping in the morning.”

The Bulls will be on the road Tuesday night against the Bakersfield Condors. They will return to the Cow Palace next Friday to host the Ontario Reign. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m.

Bulls toppled by Grizzlies in 5-3 defeat

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