COW PALACE — Bulls fans, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sick and tired of the Stockton Thunder.
From the teams’ first meet-up in October, all the way to the 10-man brawl during Saturday night’s shutout loss in Stockton. It’s no joke: This writer is tired of those guys.
So needless to say, upon showing up to the Cow Palace Sunday to watch the San Francisco Bulls take on this foe for the sixth time this season, I was ready to see the home team do some damage.
Not even the adorable dogs that showed up for Pucks & Paws could completely soften my mood.
While the Bulls held the rival team scoreless for a good half the match, the Thunder would skate away the victors with a 3-1 win Sunday afternoon.
President and Head Coach Pat Curcio, while happy with how the team played on Sunday, expressed his frustration with the loss:
“As hard as it is to get bounces and create offense, we don’t get any breaks that’s for sure. … Without making excuses, we’ve gotta find ways to win games. But it sure makes it difficult when everything’s stacked against you. … I thought we played a good hockey game tonight, and it’s frustrating to lose when you play well.”
The Bulls and Thunder would pick up pretty much right where they left off the night before, with Kris Belan and Stockton’s Ryan Green dropping their gloves not even two minutes into the first period.
That would be the extent of any opening-period drama, though, as both teams went scoreless through the opening period of play. Both teams would kill a penalty each, and both goalies would defend seven shots.
Stockton’s Eric Hunter would get the puck past Thomas Heemskerk for the first goal of the game at 8:12 in the second period. The Thunder would score again — this time defenseman Brandon Davidson on a 4-on-3 with 1:50 left — to put San Francisco in the hole 2-0.
Jordan Morrison would get things going for the Bulls in the third period with a goal on his own rebound at 9:11 that would bring the crowd of 4,123 — canines not included — to their feet. Mikael Tam and Rob Kwiet would pick up assists.
But despite their insane efforts in the final period, San Francisco would be unable to get the puck past Stockton goaltender Tyler Bunz, who would turn away 26 of 27 Bulls shots in the game.
Curcio was candid post-game about the long string of tough goalies that the Bulls have faced as of late:
“I’m just hoping for one time we can (face) a goalie that’s not unbelievable. … This league’s all about good goaltending. So we have to find ways to get pucks behind these guys. It’s frustrating.”
San Francisco would pull Heemskerk towards the end of regulation, and Stockton would take advantage of the empty net with 32 seconds left, sealing the visitors’ 3-1 victory.
The San Francisco Bulls head out on a six-game stand beginning February 22 in Idaho having lost eight of their last 10 games. They return to the Cow Palace March 6 to face the Alaska Aces. The puck will drop at 7:15 p.m.