Changes to the Bulls’ roster seem to be the norm right now. Since last week’s moves, Bulls forward Kris Belan was called up by the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs. Tuesday, the Bulls released forward Colin Reddin, and he was signed by the Evansville IceMen the same day. That left room for two, but only one player has been added: Yanni Gourde, of the AHL’s Worcester Sharks. Gourde is the third player added to the team since the Bulls set out on their six-game road trip.
Tuesday night, Head Coach Pat Curcio put Gourde on a line with Dean Ouellet and Peter Sivak. Though Gourde had just arrived late the night before, he played very well on the top line.
After a spectacular performance in his last season in juniors, Gourde was playing his first professional season with the Worcester Sharks. He has been unspectacular there, as his stats show. Some Worcester Sharks watchers shared some observations about him via Twitter:
@Jon_Allred:… he started good but hasn’t done much lately. I [don't know] if he’s not used to the pro game or if it’s mental…
@stalockrox:…Very tentative and uncomfortable/unsure. This should be a good move for him much like it was for Tarasov.
Whatever was holding him back in Worcester, Gourde didn’t take long to start helping the Bulls’ game, earning a point and playing well on the power play Tuesday. Despite having only 10 points in 44 AHL games this season, he certainly knows something about the pro game now.
Ex-Bulls Alex Tuckerman and Martin Lee were both in the lineup for the Utah Grizzlies. Bulls’ play by play announcer Jason Lockhart spoke with Tuckerman before the game. Tuckerman talked about being traded for the first time in his career, and how he’s been received in Utah:
I got a big welcome when I got here and it’s been great ever since…
It takes you a while to meet all the guys and I guess to get to know everyone at a family level. Because that’s what you want to do as a hockey team, you want to know everyone on a brother level… It always takes a little time to earn everyone’s respect. It’s been pretty quick, quicker than I thought it would be.
Tuckerman went on to explain that having Martin Lee traded with him to Utah made the transition a little easier, as did knowing one of the Utah players from college.
There would be a lot of familiar faces in this game for Tuckerman and Lee, and for Bryan Cameron, the player who went to San Francisco in the trade.
In the first period, the teams stayed remarkably close in all respects. While the Grizzlies ended with an advantage in shots on goal, the difference wasn’t more than three between them through the period. With no penalties for either team, the period came to an end tied at 0.
The game’s first goal came at 1:57 of the second period. It was from Dean Ouellet off a patiently delayed feed from Gourde .
Four seconds later, Utah’s Tommy Maxwell took a hooking penalty. The Bulls held the Grizzlies in the zone for a minute and a half before the Grizzlies were able to clear the puck but San Francisco couldn’t add to their lead.
As Maxwell exited the box, he had a near breakaway that gave the Bulls a scare as the Grizzlies descended on Taylor Nelson, but it ended with a wide shot. Some minutes later, Nelson had an even greater challenge as two Grizzlies got behind the Bulls’ defense and had a two on none chance. Nelson managed to keep the puck out of the net.
The penalties came rolling in during the second period, neutralizing power plays and then doubling up, with no change of score.
The Bulls took a penalty for having too many men on the ice with 2:11 remaining in the second. A penalty killing unit of Dean Ouellet, Jordan Morrison, Simon Danis-Pepin and Dylan King were trapped on the ice for most of it. At the end of the kill, Morrison carried the puck out with Ouellet in a short handed rush, despite being at the end of a very long shift. They didn’t score, but did give the other penalty killers a chance to get off the ice. Such are the responsibilities of wearing an A.
The Bulls ended the second period still up by 1, but had been outshot 17-9.
Early in the third, on a delayed penalty, the Grizzlies almost scored in their own empty net when a pass to the point got through. The near miss for Utah was ironic, as San Francisco’s Daniil Tarasov had scored such an own-goal, clearing the puck all the way around the boards on a delayed penalty against the Grizzlies, back on November 30.
The present delayed penalty was on Dean Ouellet. Just 62 seconds later, Simon Danis-Pepin was called for cross-checking David Eddy behind the net. Eddy was helped off the ice by a Grizzlies’ trainer.
The Grizzlies didn’t need all 58 seconds of five on three to tie the game during a scramble in front of the net.
The Bulls were much more aggressive during the five on four, clearing the puck twice and pestering the Grizzlies well through the neutral zone.
Sloppy play on the part of both teams in the neutral zone resulted in several intercepted passes, and ended with a breakaway for one of the Grizzlies. Taylor Nelson gloved the slap shot from the circle to keep the game tied.
In the last minutes of the game, the Grizzlies broke out of their end quickly and flew through the neutral zone, putting the Bulls back on their heels. A quick shot from above the circle was deflected through traffic to beat Nelson and give the Grizzlies the lead with only 2:01 left.
The Bulls quickly gained the zone, but even with an extra attacker and several chances, they couldn’t beat Utah’s goaltender Adam Morrison again. It was just the second time this season that Bulls failed to pick up a point when leading after the second period.
The Bulls play again Wednesday in Colorado at 6:05 PST.
San Francisco’s goal was scored by Dean Ouellet(24)(Gourde, Sivak). Taylor Nelson made 40 saves for the Bulls. The Bulls power play was 0/2, their penalty kill 3/4.
Utah goals were scored by Patterson(4)(PPG Falite, Tuzzolino), and Patterson(5)(Estoclet, Lee). Adam Morrison made 24 saves for the win.