The new-look San Francisco Bulls kept things rolling by going up to Alaska and winning two out of three games against the first-place Aces over the weekend.
The Bulls (17-21-1-4) have now won four of five games since head coach Pat Curcio shook up the roster by sending former captain Justin Bowers and top-scoring defenseman Sacha Guimond to the Gwinnett Gladiators in return for Rylan Galiardi, Christian Ouellet and Cody Carlson.
“We’re a better team,” Curcio said. “We’re younger, we have a lot of skill and we have kids who want to get better and get to the next level.”
The 3-2 overtime win Sunday was the Bulls’ first when scoring three goals or less this season. Prior to the game, the Bulls were 0-18-3 when netting less than four in a contest.
“Any time you only give up a couple goals against, you’ve got a chance to win,” Curcio said.
But it wasn’t all good news for the Bulls in Alaska. Galiardi suffered an upper-body injury Saturday and is considered day-to-day now.
The Bulls are currently tied for seventh in the Western Conference with the Utah Grizzlies. They return to action in Stockton on Wednesday and host the Ontario Reign at the Cow Palace on Thursday.
Ouellet lights the lamp: In his second week with the Bulls, Christian Ouellet strung together his best three games of the season in Alaska.
Ouellet lit the lamp twice in the first game, scored again on Saturday and picked up an assist on the game-tying goal in Sunday’s finale.
Curcio said he acquired Ouellet because the team desperately needed another pure-goal scorer.
“He kind of reminds me of Brett Hull,” Curcio said. “He’s a right-handed shot, he finds the holes, when the puck is on his stick it takes a millisecond to get the shot on net. He’s definitely a shooter.”
Decision Time: Goaltender Tommy Heemskerk might be healthy enough to suit up against the Thunder on Wednesday. But Curcio said Taylor Nelson, who stopped 38 of 40 shots in Sunday’s win, has earned the starting gig for now.
“Nelson’s our goalie right now,” he said. “He’s going to run with it for as long as everyone feels he can.”
Heemskerk led ECHL goaltenders in games played, minutes and saves before he underwent emergency appendectomy surgery on New Year’s Eve.
Curcio said Nelson is staying in between the pipes until he cools off, and after that he’ll go with the hot hand.
“The guy that keeps winning is going to play,” he said.