Today is a very special day for hockey fans around the bay area as hockey returns to the HP Pavilion. In celebration of hockey in the Bay Area, HP Pavilion will host its first-ever ECHL game. It will be the first ECHL game hosted by an NHL arena since the Peoria Rivermen took on the Wheeling Nailers at the Mellon Arena, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 20, 2002. In that game, the Wheeling Nailers defeated the Peoria Riverman that resulted in a 6-5 final. The Bulls and Sharks connection now comes full circle. The Sharks played their first two seasons (1991-93) at the Cow Palace, before moving to San Jose.
Before and after the game, all attendees are strongly encouraged to patronize one of downtown San Jose’s businesses to support them during the absence of NHL hockey at HP Pavilion.
In addition, the Sharks Foundation will be hosting a “Toys for Tots” toy drive at the North and South Entrances of HP Pavilion. Guests can bring a new, unwrapped toy or make a monetary donation to support those less fortunate during the holiday season. All donors will receive a raffle ticket for prize drawings to be held that night.
With tonight’s sacrifice the San Francisco Bulls are willing to give up one night of tickets revenues for the opportunity to expand their already existing ECHL audience. Bulls Co-Owner and Head Coach Pat Curcio had this say about the opportunity for his team playing at the Shark Tank. A place which is listed at # 5 as one of the toughest NHL arena’s to play at. “We have an opportunity to sell our merchandise to 18,000 people and build our brand, build our identity.” “All these people who are in the building can see the product — it’s live, it’s real.”
Curcio also sees the game as a chance to motivate his players — including Sharks prospects Thomas Heemskerk, Taylor Nelson, Daniil Tarasov and Marek Viedensky. And his point applies to the visiting Thunder as well.
Tonight the San Francisco Bulls take on the Stockton Thunder at the HP Pavilion in San Jose home of the NHL’s Western Conference power house the San Jose Sharks. Going into today’s matchup, the Bulls are currently in sixth place of the ECHL Western Conference with a 11-15-1-2 record. While the Thunder are positioned in fourth place of the Western Conference with a 14-7-3-2 record. One the season, the Bulls are 3-0 against the Thunder with tonight’s contest making it the fourth of 13 meetings between these two Pacific Division rivals.
The last time these two met was back on Thursday night at the Bulls home the Cow Palace. In that game, the Bulls fell behind and had to comeback twice in the third period. Late in the third period, after San Francisco’s Andrew Crescenzi tied it up at three, the Stockton Thunder took a costly penalty when Thunders forward #11 Phil Mangan was caught for a hick stick that resulted in double minor. In that contest, the game would go into overtime with the Bulls on the power play. Shortly into the overtime period, Bulls forward #91 Peter Sivak ripped the puck past Stockton’s goaltender #30 Tyler Bunz to complete the comeback for San Francisco and beat the Thunder in a 4-3 final.
San Francisco recently completed a two game mini road trip in which they posted a 1-1 record. The Bulls enter in tonight’s matchup having come off of a 4-1 victory in Bakersfield that featured Dean Ouellet’s 15th tally of the season. It was also a special night for San Francisco as Kris Belan knotted the franchises first shorthanded goal in team history, that took place in the third period of that contest. In addition, Bulls goaltender Thomas Heemsherk recorded his 10th win of the season.
For the visiting Stockton Thunder, they recently took on the Colorado Eagles at their home that resulted in a 1-1 split. Last Friday, the Thunder defeated the Eagles 4-1 but were edged by Colorado on Saturday 2-1.
Offensively, the San Francisco Bulls are paced by Captain Justin Bowers and leading goal scorer Dean Ouellet, each with 26 points. For the Stockton Thunder, they led up front by Harrison Reed with 26 points. He is tied for the team lead with 13 goals with Toni Rajala.
Tonight’s Scouting Report:
Goals: Dean Ouellet – 15
Assists: Justin Bowers – 19
Points: Justin Bowers, Dean Ouellet – 26
Plus/Minus: Scott Langdon – +8
PIM: Kris Belan – 92
Wins: Thomas Heemskerk – 10
GAA: Thomas Heemskerk – 3.30
Save %: Thomas Heemskerk – .900
Dean Ouellet – seven points (3g, 4a) in the past seven games
Sacha Guimond – five assists in the past five games
Goals: Toni Rajala, Harrison Reed – 13
Assists: Yannick Riendeau – 18
Points: Harrison Reed – 26
Plus/Minus: Eric Hunter – +12
PIM: Garet Hunt – 108
Wins: Tyler Bunz – 8
GAA: Cody Reichard – 2.41
Save %: Cody Reichard – .920
Shutouts: Cody Richard, Tyler Bunz – 1
Cody Reichard – 3-0-1 and 1 SO in his past three games
Yannick Riendeau – 11 points (3g, 11a) in his past 10 games
*****Stats tracking courtesy of the San Francisco Bulls*****
The puck is set to drop at 7:30p at the HP Pavilion. Tonight’s game can be heard on KNBR.com and for America One Sports subscribers can be seen live on their website.
LETS GO BULLS!!!!!!!!!
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