The NHL canceled games through Dec. 30, but action-starved Sharks fans will get a chance to see some hockey next week when the San Francisco Bulls roll into HP Pavilion in San Jose.
The Bulls and Stockton Thunder will face off at the Shark Tank on Monday, giving the ECHL’s newest franchise a chance to gain some exposure while Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture are sidelined by the NHL lockout.
Sharks and Bulls season ticket holders are getting first dibs on tickets. The leftovers will be made available to the general public at no cost on www.ticketmaster.com at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
Bulls forward Jordan Morrison said the prospect of playing in front of a sold-out crowd in an NHL arena is exciting.
“I’m sure that for a lot of the guys here, it’s going to be one of the biggest crowds they’ve ever played in front of,” he said.
Four-in-five stretch: The only drawback of playing at the Shark Tank next week is the grueling schedule it presents the Bulls.
The team will face the Thunder at the Cow Palace on Thursday before heading off to Southern California for weekend bouts with the Ontario Reign and the Bakersfield Condors. The Bulls are off Sunday before the game at HP Pavilion.
“You’ve got to drink lots of water, make sure you get a bunch of good meals and a bunch of sleep in you before those days,” Morrison said. “But it’s nothing that we’re not used to here. We’re used to the three in three’s, so one more game — we’ll have plenty of energy.”
The Bulls will benefit from the return of defenseman Rob Kwiet, who missed all but one shift in three games with a leg contusion last week.
Structured hockey: The Bulls (9-14-1-2) dropped a pair against the Colorado Eagles at the Cow Palace over the weekend, falling into sixth place in the Western Conference. But coach Pat Curcio’s team played one of its better games in a 3-1 loss Saturday.
Curcio said it was a good model on how to play hockey the right way.
“In the D-zone, guys weren’t running around, they were communicating. They were putting pucks in the right area, they weren’t turning it over,” he said. “In the offensive zone we were protecting pucks and wearing down their D — those are the things you’ve got to do.”
The Bulls outshot the Eagles 32-24 and out-chanced them 19-4. The team allowed only two goals before goalie Tommy Heemskerk was yanked for an extra attacker.
“We deserved at least a split,” Curcio said. “If we can keep our goals down to two, we’ll win a lot of hockey games.”