Bulls coach finds discipline crucial for new hockey team

S.F. Examiner File PhotoSharks forward Ryane Clowe won't be playing this weekend

San Francisco Bulls coach Pat Curcio is expecting his team to play with more discipline when they face the Ontario Reign for the third time in eight days tonight in Southern California.

The Bulls racked up 43 penalty minutes in a 7-0 loss to the Reign at the Cow Palace on Saturday.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re not taking nine penalties in one hockey game,” Curcio said. “They have so much skill up front, if we’re not playing at least five-on-five, we’re not going to have a chance.”

The Bulls (3-8-2, 8 points) climbed out of the ECHL’s Pacific Division cellar Friday when they snapped a seven-game losing streak by beating the Stockton Thunder 4-1. It was also the Bulls’ first home game after nine straight road contests and Curcio said the excitement produced a letdown against the Reign.

“They [Ontario] were really prepared to play,” he said. “Our guys thought, we won Friday, we can come in Saturday and do it again. It doesn’t work like that.”

New faces: The Bulls added depth to the roster last week when the Toronto Maple Leafs assigned forwards Jamie Devane and Andrew Crescenzi to the club. The Maple Leafs are without an ECHL affiliate right now and the San Jose Sharks-affiliated Bulls are thin at forward, so Curcio said the placement works for both teams.

Both players spent the 2011-12 season playing Canadian junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League. Devane, 21, collected 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists) and 104 penalty minutes with the Plymouth Whalers last season while Crescenzi, 20, netted a career-high 24 goals for the Kitchener Rangers.

Devane and Crescenzi both saw ice time against the Reign on Saturday, but Curcio said neither is in game shape yet.

“They still need to get their legs under them,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll be a little better Wednesday than they were on Saturday.”

No Clowe: Sharks forward Ryane Clowe isn’t expected to lace up the skates at the Cow Palace this weekend.

Instead, Clowe will be behind the bench performing coaching duties when the Bulls face off against the Idaho Steelheads on Friday and the Utah Grizzlies on Saturday and Sunday.

Curcio said the NHL veteran needs at least another week to get back into form.    

“To be sitting out for a few months and then to just jump into the lineup — that would be difficult for anyone,” Curcio said.

HockeyPaul Gacklesports

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