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Bulls’ perfect penalty kill shuts door on Condors

COW PALACE — No hockey fans, you weren’t dreaming.

In addition to the San Francisco Bulls sporting super shnazzy Sharks-themed teal jerseys, that really was James Hetfield who dropped the puck at the opening of Saturday night’s game.

Because, seriously, nothing compliments a hockey game quite like ’80s thrash metal, right?

All the Bulls needed was a Metallica rendition of “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” to cap off their hard-fought, well-deserved 3-1 victory over the visiting Bakersfield Condors. It would be the Bulls first home win since January 19.

And for a team that had spent all night on the bus home from Ontario, the Bulls came out the gate ready to do damage.

President and Head Coach talked about the win post-game:

“We persevered and started getting our legs going late in the first, early in the second, and I thought we controlled the game for the most part after that. We had to kill lots of penalties, which I’m not crazy about, but they did a great job on the PK so we’ll take that tonight.”

Both teams would go scoreless in the first period. The Bulls would be outshot 17-12 but would kill two penalties. Taylor Nelson would stretch out his glove, drop to his knees, and even roll round in the blue paint to stop Bakersfield’s 17 attempts on goal.

San Francisco would up its level of play, both offensively and defensively,  in the second period. After killing two penalties of their own and then going on the two-man advantage, Rob Kwiet would jettison the puck past goaltender Brian Stewart to give the Bulls the 1-0 lead. Christian Ouellet and Cody Carlson would earn assists.

The Bulls are 14-4-1 this season when they score the first goal. Nelson talked post-game about the momentum of scoring first:

“It’s always nice to get that first goal. . . The way that first period went it was such a battle, and both teams were getting their chances on net. So to be able to get that first one, later in the game, it’s nice to be up. It’s nice to get the first one. I think it gives guys a lot of momentum, not having to battle back like we did last night. Big momentum boost.”

The “New Team Teal” would continue its assault on the Condors’ net with a goal by returning threat Marek Viedensky at 2:45 to open the third period, giving the Bulls the 2-0 lead. Kwiet would tally an assist.

Viedensky, who had been on the IR since he had sustained a leg injury back in December, also contributed an assist in his first game back on the ice Friday against the Ontario Reign. When asked about his productive return to the ice, Viedensky humbly responded:

“I’m pretty tired right now. I have to say, my stamina is pretty low. I’m trying to get it back. . . I’m trying to do my best to help the team.”

Bakersfield would respond, however, with a goal at 5:39 to bring the score to 2-1. But opposing goaltender Stewart falling into the splits wouldn’t be enough to stop Jordan Morrison from shooting the puck to the back of the net to give the Bulls the 3-1 lead. Kris Belan and Jordan Clendenning would tally assists.

Two more penalty kills later, the Bulls were skating off the ice with the 3-1 victory.

The San Francisco Bulls, and their Sharks-themed jerseys, will be back in action Sunday afternoon to finish off their two-game homestand against the Bakersfield Condors. The puck drops at 2:15 p.m.

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