SF Bulls' coach Pat Curcio faces tough decisions for playoff roster

Courtesy SF BullsKris Belan’s return from the Manchester Monarchs has provided a boost to the SF Bulls.

DALY CITY — Playoff rosters need to be in by Monday and San Francisco Bulls coach Pat Curcio is juggling a lot of moving parts. With the first playoff series in franchise history set to get underway on April 5, Curcio is treating the last three games of the regular season, including tonight’s contest with the Idaho Steelheads, as a tryout for the Bulls’ 23-man playoff roster.

With several players skating in the AHL right now, the Bulls coach won’t be able to make any final decisions until the midnight hour.

“A lot of the decisions are going to be based who is coming back from Worcester and that won’t be decided and can’t be decided until Sunday,” Curcio said.

The Worcester Sharks are currently six points out of a playoff spot in the AHL’s Eastern Conference with 17 games to play. If the Sharks’ playoff chances don’t improve by the end of the week, Curcio said it’s possible that Tommy Grant, Yanni Gourde, Peter Sivak or Marek Viedensky could return to the club for its playoff series with the first-place Alaska Aces next week.

The Bulls are also waiting to hear if second-leading scorer, Dean Ouellet, is going to rejoin the team for the playoffs.

Ouellet was called up to the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliate, last week, but the Bulls received former-first round NHL pick, Daultan Leveille (29th overall, 2008) and defenseman Antoine Corbin in return. The roster was further bolstered by Kris Belan’s return from the Manchester Monarchs on Monday.

Curcio also signed five new players over the last week. He inked Petersborough Petes linemates Nick Czinder and Brett Findlay out of the Ontario Hockey League last week and both players had an immediate impact over the weekend. Czinder, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound wingman, picked up three points in three games, including a breakaway goal on Saturday, and Findlay impressed Curico with overall smart play at both ends of the rink.

The Bulls coach said both players have already locked up spots on the playoff roster.

“They’re staying and playing every night,” he said.

In addition, Curcio picked up defenseman William Lacasse off waivers from the Idaho Steelheads, goalie Travis Fullerton from the University of New Brunswick and forward Andrew Hamburg out of Colorado College.

Further complicating matters, the Bulls’ active scoring leader, Bryan Cameron, is out of lineup tonight with a lower-body injury and Tristan King will miss the game because of a viral infection.

In total, Curcio plans to carry 14 forwards, seven defenseman and two goalies, but he said the plates could shift by Sunday.

“The boards keeps changing,” he said.


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