Colorado nets another win from Bulls

DALY CITY, Calif. – Pat Curcio’s San Francisco Bulls did everything he asked for against the Colorado Eagles on Saturday night.
They checked, played tight defense and continuously dumped the puck deep into the Eagles attack zone. But they couldn’t find the back of the net until late in the third period, resulting in a 3-1 loss at the Cow Palace.
“We out-chanced them, we outshot them, we killed penalties so well. We did everything but score goals tonight,’ Curcio said, adding, ‘We played one of our better games.’
The Bulls wanted to play a tight-checking defensive game against a team that boasts the ECHLs top three scorers. They executed Curcio’s plan to near perfection, but Eagles goalie Kyle Jones stood on his head turning away 31 of 32 shots.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to their goalie, he played really well,” Captain Justin Bowers said. “We definitely had more scoring chances, probably a lot more. We’ve just got to bear down and bury those chances we do get.”
After giving up two power play goals on Friday night, the Bulls wanted to stay out of the box to keep the league’s second-best unit off the ice. The Eagles entered play having converted 25.6 percent of their power play chances this season.
But the Eagles received a two-man advantage for two full minutes after Jamie Devane and Peter Sivak both picked up penalties at 8:14 of the first period. The Bulls stymied the Eagles attack, though, blocking shots and keeping the action out on the perimeter.
“Huge kill for us,” Bowers said. “I thought we built some momentum off that.”
The game was a stalemate until Kevin Ulanski floated one past Tommy Heemskerk’s blocker midway through the second period.
“I know Heemskerk would love to have that one back,” Curcio said. “Unfortunately that happens. He came across and got caught between our D and the shooter and just missed it.”
The Bulls kept nipping away, building momentum early in the third period. Bowers, Jordan Clendenning, Kris Belan, Devane and Dean Ouellet all threw big hits that revved up the Cow Palace crowd.
But the puck took a weird bounce in the Eagles end midway through the third period, landing on Arthur Bidwill’s stick. He found Combs streaking down the ice and the league’s second-leading scorer netted his 15th goal of the season by firing the puck under Heemskerk’s glove.          
“Combs just snuck into the right area, got a quick pass and all of a sudden we’re scrambling to get back,” Curcio said.
The Bulls spent the last five minutes on the power play after Jake Marto received a game misconduct penalty for slashing Marek Viedensky behind the play. The man advantage turned into a 5-on-3 three minutes later and Peter Sivak capitalized on the opportunity by stuffing home a loose puck in the crease for his ninth goal of the season.
But with only 52 seconds left on the clock, the Bulls could not complete the comeback. Combs added an empty-netter, his 16th goal, at 19:56 of the third period to cement the game.
The Eagles (10-10-3) moved into sole possession of fifth place in the Western Conference with the win. The Bulls (9-14-3) will look to get back on the winning track when the Stockton Thunder rolls into town on Thursday.
“It’s not getting easier for us, so we’ve got to come ready to work on Monday and find ways to go back to doing what we do well,” Curcio said.

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