The small crowd at Park 77 grew slowly at first but by the end of the Bulls first playoff game, shown straight from Alaska, the bar was filled with orange-clad fans. It was quieter than it should have been, but the Bulls had just been beat 5 to 1 by the Aces in this first meeting in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Rawhide, Nicole and lots of Bulls folks were there. They gave away prizes to the crowd and cheered on the team. Ian Schultz was there as well, nursing his broken ankle. It was great seeing so many rallying for the Bulls.
Alaska has lots of experience in the playoffs including winning the Kelly Cup and they were amped and ready for the game. They were forceful and controlled the game from the first few minutes. The Bulls never challenged this control. They were slow on the ice and by the way they played, it didn’t even feel like a playoff game. There was no urgency within the team, with the exception of Captain Scott Langdon who was upset when a couple Aces ran into Goalie Thomas Heemskerk. That was a highlight in the game, but it didn’t get the rest of the team going.
And sure, there were bad calls and a lack of calls, however, that’s not what lost the Bulls the game. They needed to treat this game as THE MOST IMPORTANT GAME THEY’VE EVER PLAYED and they didn’t rise to that level.
Second game is Saturday night, which by the time I write and publish this blog will be later today. I have no doubt the Bulls can come back and win.
These are the Bulls Sheet’s 3 Keys to the Game:
1 – Aggressive Offense
Alaska had 40 shots to San Francisco’s 21 in Friday’s game. This needs to change if the Bulls have any chance of winning the second game. The Bulls must push and push hard on the Aces. Alaska is a very aggressive team and will continue to run San Francisco over if the Bulls do not run over them first. Both times the Bulls beat the Aces they scored first.
2 – Tighter Defense
There was much of the first game when Heemskerk was alone at the net. He needs more help. If he’s by himself then this leaves his weak spot, anywhere near his legs when he’s horizontal stopping the puck, wide open. This happened twice in tonight’s game.
3 – Play Smarter
Kris Belan scored the lone goal for San Francisco. However, he also committed a blatant crosscheck right in front of the ref earlier in the game, leaving the team shorthanded, leading the Aces to another goal. Even if emotions start to rise, they have to settle down and play with their heads not their tempers, because the Aces will be doing so and if the Bulls allow their emotions to guide them they will not win.
As underdogs, the Bulls are on a sharp uphill, made even steeper by this first loss. They will need to pick it up and take that hill like they own it. Because I know they CAN own it if they believe in themselves.
Regardless of how this first playoff series turns out, I love the Bulls and support them! If you’re in The City later tonight, stop by Park 77 and watch the game with us!