Tonight marked the completion of a third of the Bulls ECHL debut and their first ever Teddy Bear Toss night. For those who don’t know much about this tradition, the Teddy Bear Toss is a popular Christmas season promotion at many minor and junior hockey arenas throughout North America in support of children in need, tonight the Bulls team up with tonight’s sponsor Seton Medical Center as they will continue to honor that tradition and distribute those teddy bears out to child in the local area who are in need of something special for the holiday season. The Teddy Bear Toss promotion, was first started by the Kamloops Blazers who are currently members of the Canadian Hockey League, under the Western Hockey League brand. San Francisco played hosts to the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL’s Mountain Division who entered the night in fourth place of their division and sixth overall in the Western Conference while San Francisco entered tonight’s matchup in third position of the Pacific Division and fifth overall in the West. Tonight also marked the first time on the season in which Colorado made the trip to California. Meanwhile, San Francisco were seeking their first season series win against the Eagles that featured the ECHL’s top scoring line of Chad Costello, Jack Combs, and Michael Forney who entered the contest with 103 points combined. An injury report update from the last Bulls game was defenseman #17 Rob Kwiet who left early in the first period against the Bakersfield Condors Wednesday night and did not return as he was only subjected to a non-serious lower body injury. Furthermore, would be out of the lineup for maintenance reasons by the team.
Both teams jumped out in a hurry on the shot clock as both goaltenders had their share of save situations. Bulls forward Daniil Tarasov would get involved early as he lead the Bulls in shots with 2 on Kyle Jones of Colorado. Minutes later, a big fight occurred at center ice at 7:05 of the opening period when San Francisco Bulls Jordan Clendenning found himself in the middle of the scrap with Colorado Eagles Norm Ezekiel, each would trade blows and eventually each would get five minutes for fighting. Immediately following the first scrum, another fight ensued as Bulls Jamie Devane drops the gloves with Colorado’s Isaac Smeltzer, both would be charged with five minutes for fighting as well making it a very crowded penalty box for both clubs. So both teams set the tone in the early stages of the game with two fights. Under two minutes later following the games second fight, Bulls would get the games first penalty when Jordan Morrison would get called for boarding at 9:03. While short handed, the Bulls were assessed another penalty for boarding as Kris Belan was sent to box at 9:40 of the first. On a prime power play opportunity for the Eagles, league leading power play point getter Chad Costello opened the scoring as he would add his 15th power play marker of the year at 10:07 of the first with assists from Kevin Ulanski who stamped his third of the season and Jack Combs who punched his 21st of the year. Well after the Bulls were shorthanded on the five on three situation, their penalty problems would continue when Peter Sivak was called for hooking with less than four minutes of the first. The Bulls PK unit would go to work and this time were up to the task as they would kill of the penalty. Moments later, the Bulls would get their first power play opportunity when Eagles forward Ezekiel would go to the box for cross checking with less than two minutes remaining of the opener. Bulls however would not score on the man advantage as they would take some carry over power play time for the next period. At the end of the first, San Francisco would be badly outshot on the shot clock trailing the Eagles by seven at 11-4.
The Bulls would enter the second frame with carry over power play time that was awarded to them in the first. One the man advantage opportunity they would encounter some push back as the Eagles denied the Bulls the chance to tie the game up at one. In the early stages of the second, San Francisco would close the gap of shots on goal with just 2 shots behind. At the 4:33 mark of the second, San Francisco would be shorthanded as Kris Belan would get his second penalty of the game as he was sent to the sin bin for interference. On their fourth power play opportunity of the game, Colorado would put some distant between San Francisco as forward Ryan Schnell would score making it his third of the season with assists from forward Kyle Ostrow who got his eight of the year and defenseman Collin Bowman added his sixth of the season. Moments after the Eagles scored their power play goal, the games third fight of the night occured. This time it was Kris Belan of San Francisco would dropped the gloves and delivered blow by blow scores to Colorado’s Norm Ezekiel who each would get five for fighting 10:24 of the second stanza. The Colorado Eagles point leader Costello would get his second of the night and 11th of the season with assists from defenseman Jake Marto who knotted his fifth of the season and defenseman Isaac Smeltzer who stamped his first of the year at 15:44 of the middle frame. The Bulls would continue to chip away at the Eagles lead on the shot clock but would continue to be denied a goal as Colorado net minder Kyle Jones would continue to protect his shutout bid. With less than two minutes left of the second, the Eagles would score their fourth goal of the game when forward Teegan Moore pumped it home with his second of the season with the only assist awarded to Ulanski as he add his second assist of the night and increased his assist count to four. Thru 40 minutes of play, the Eagles would have a slight lead on shot clock with a 21-19 margin.
Before the start of the final period, Bulls coach Pat Curcio made a goaltending change and swapped Thomas Heemsherk for Taylor Nelson. In the early going of the third, the Bulls would go on the man advantage when Eagles defenseman Cody Sol would get called for high sticking at 0:53 mark and was assessed a double minor infraction. On the man advantage, San Francisco Bulls fans were officially inducted into the Teddy Bear Toss club as the Bulls finally got on the board when Jordan Morrisson scored on the power play and tallied San Francisco’s first goal of the night and his seventh of the season with assists coming from forward Dean Ouellet who tallied his ninth and defenseman Sacha Guimond with his 14th at 4:12 of the final frame thus ending Eagles goalie Kyle Jones shutout bid to make it 4-1 Colorado. Minutes after the teddy bears were finally cleared from the ice, play resumed and shortly after that, San Francisco would go back on the power play when Colorado Eagles forward Forney would go off for hooking at 8:28 of the third. One the Bulls man advantage opportunity, the Eagles PK unit put a stop to San Francisco’s attempt to chip away at their three goal cushion to keep it 4-1. After the penalty kill, Eagles Forney would go back to the sin bin for another two minutes for boarding at 11:32 of the final stanza. With another opportunity to cut the lead in half, the Bulls would come up short yet again as Colorado’s penalty unit put up a brick wall to protect their lead. San Francisco would not get another power play opportunity as Eagles Schnell would put salt in the wound as he scored and un-assisted tally. San Francisco finally caught up and edged the Eagles on the shot clock 30-28. With a 5-1 loss courtesy to the Chad Costello show, San Francisco would remain winless on the season series against the Colorado Eagles with an 0-3 record. Tonight’s win for the Eagles, they improve to 9-10-1-2, while San Francisco would have a 9-13-1-2 record. Both teams are back in action again tomorrow night at the Cow Palace, puck is set to drop at 7:15pm as the Bulls will try for a fourth attempt to get their first win of season series against Colorado.
Three Stars of the game:
1. COL – 13 Chad Costello
2. COL – 29 Kyle Jones
3. SF – 9 Jordan Morrison
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