Tonight, the San Francisco Bulls (13-12-5) welcome the Idaho Steelheads (22-7-5). This is game four in the five game home stand. The Bulls have taken two of the three with their only loss coming in the shootout. In their previous meeting on November 16 the Bulls beat the Steelheads four to two. Currently, the Bulls are eighth with 31 points in the western conference, while the Steelheads are third with 49 points.
The Bulls are coming off a strong victory against the Colorado Eagles. The Bulls were able to control possession and maintained the jump throughout the contest as they outshot the Eagles 42 to 25. Dean Ouellet scored his team leading 17 goal and second leading scorer Peter Sivak scored his 12 and 13 goals. These two are going to have to continue their excellent offensive play in order for the Bulls to have a chance against the Steelheads tonight. Also with the lockout ending, Ryan Clowe and Torrey Mitchell have left the Bulls to return to their NHL clubs.
The Steelheads come into tonight’s match up as one of the hottest teams in the ECHL. They have won four of their last six games; two of those losses came in the shootout. Idaho owns the second highest goals for total and the third lowest goals allowed in the entire league. Working in the Bulls favor is the recent call up of Idaho’s leading goal scorer Austin Smith and their point leader Justin Dowling. The impact of their departure has yet to be seen, but it could be major benefit for the Bulls.
The keys to tonight’s game are to build on that momentum for the offense and to maintain discipline in order to limit the power play opportunities for Idaho. The Bulls need to maintain the offensive pressure they showed from their last outing. Idaho has a stingy defense and they are going to have to maximize the amount of chances they get in order to score the amount of goals needed to win this game. Also key is minimizing the chances that the Steelheads’ get to play with the man up? advantage. Idaho is going to lean on their special teams for goal scoring because losing their two leading scores is going to haper their ability to score at even strength. This could be tough as the Bulls have a tendency of taking a lot of penalties, but they must maintain discipline to give them the best shot at securing a winning home stand.