(Originally published at Kukla’s Korner, December 22, 2012)
For me, Friday’s Bulls game started with a long drive through the rain. This demonstration of diligence and commitment is less impressive if you know that I had a thrilling Worcester Sharks game to listen to on the way. No hardship there. It was probably exactly the sort of game I would never want to watch (I think they may have broken some season penalty minute records, could hardly go five minutes without a fight. I believe Frazer McLaren alone racked up 27 minutes before being excused.) Still, the back and forth scoring and right up to the last second suspense made for a great listen.
SF Bulls defenseman Sacha Guimond has gone back to Canada. This tweet from Simon Danis-Pepin sat there in my Twitter timeline for days:
@Simon_D_Pepin: “Having a good hangout with @Guimond15 before he heads north. Feel like my son is going away to college. #lesbulls #ledream”
I couldn’t get anyone to explain it on Twitter, and I couldn’t get to the city to ask someone about it. All I could get before the game was that Guimond was, in fact, going back to college in Canada. That was sort of anti-climactic. Guimond’s official status would remain a mystery until after Friday’s game. At that point I learned that his status isn’t officially official, there is a possibility he will return but the forces of a scholarship are against it. He needs to enroll very soon or give up a hefty educational opportunity.
Since I do usually share opinions on things, I should add here that I totally get why Guimond would make the decision to return to Canada. I’m a big fan of education, but this is not good news for the Bulls. Friday’s game was a case in point:
@GackleReport :”if the #sfbulls escape the first down 1-0 they’ll be lucky. they look like chickens with their heads cut off in their own zone tonight.”
How significant is Guimond’s absence? It might be tolerable to lose a top scoring defenseman if only the rest of the team were intact. Mikael Tam’s presence is helping but with Scott Langdon out indefinitely as well, the Bulls will miss Guimond.
The team managed to settle down by the second period, and though they fell to 2-0 in the second, the team did not fall apart. It was not a typical loss for this team. They outshot their opponent, they improved instead of getting worse as they fell behind on the scoreboard, and they probably lost not because they were outplayed, but because they missed some really good chances. There were probably four shots that could have gone in, though the Reign had their share of those as well.
The Bulls did score in the second period. The goal was ascribed first to Tam, then to Viedensky, then to Sova… It ended up being Viedensky’s deflection off a Tam shot. That brought the game within a goal. Not long after that goal, Marek Viedensky went down with a lower body injury. Curcio said after the game that it did not look promising and it was either a knee or an ankle.
You could say that this is an excellent opportunity for players who haven’t been in the lineup much. The Bulls’ injured list could be mistaken for a list of key players, but, as the Bulls said in their End of the World promotion, they will finish the game.
The final seconds of the game were the sort to keep the audience riveted. The Bulls came so close to tying it up that even the net thought they had scored. For whatever reason, the goal light did go off with under 9 seconds to go. It was ruled not a goal. After the game while preparing to get on the bus for Ontario, no one had seen the video review. Whether it was an unfairly disallowed goal or a mis-applied goal light, it knocked the wind out of the Bulls. The Reign managed to get the puck and skate away to score in the empty net.
The Reign suffered some casualties as well. I believe it was defenseman Cameron Burt who was hurt in a collision during the first period. He needed to be helped off the ice at the end of the period. It was a rough game all around.
Ontario won, but it wasn’t a blowout by any means. All things considered, it was a frustrating game but nothing for the Bulls to be ashamed of. The folks in the stands recognized that. They rang the team off the ice with their bells, and stood to applaud them.
It is what it is
In order to say you are this or that, you have to do or be this or that. “It” actually has to do something to be what it is. At what point is a hockey player no longer a hockey player because he’s not playing hockey?
I am a little disappointed by the return of so many players from their European teams. I understand the logic, but it still seems ignoble to bail on your new team because you either think the NHL season is about to start or never will. Either way, it doesn’t seem like something a good team player would do, not something Joe Thornton or Jason Demers are doing. Demers will have a new contract to negotiate this summer, but he’s still playing. He’s doing very well in Finland even if we don’t get to watch because the Finnish league doesn’t put a nice free feed online like the Czechs and the KHL (they do mean to do that, right?) do. Playing over there isn’t exactly high-profile, but Demers is still playing game after game well and dutifully, while others whine about food or accommodations or hazards of injury and contract consideration or being away from home or…
Jason Demers seems to be the kind of guy who will finish the game, wherever he’s playing it.
Of course, Thornton and Demers are probably on a flight home right now, because I wrote that.
Notes for Bulls fans
One of the things a fan needs to do when following a new team is find what’s being written about them Google, of course, is a good place to start, but it has its limits. There are a number of stories around about how the NHL lockout is or isn’t benefiting other leagues, but it can take a while to find outlets that provide Bulls news that is about the Bulls. So I’d like to mention a few sites that regularly report on Bulls games, at least home games. SFbay.ca has covered a whole lot of games. You can find those reports here, and they post good pics. Sports Radio Service provides a write up of Bulls home games. The SF Examiner is also publishing some Bulls game reports by Paul Gackle. You can find more Bulls news than the Examiner publishes on gacklereport.com. For fan and booster club news, you can check in with The Bulls Sheet.
I’m pretty sure none of those folks will be with the team tonight in Ontario. We will all have to listen from home or wherever we are this holiday weekend not Ontario, California. As always, go to KNBR.com, or you can watch on Americaonesports.com. I don’t think Ontario has a live audio game feed, at least they didn’t the last time I tried to find one. How sad for them. Note the early puck drop: 6:00pm PST.