Tonight, The Bulls face off with their rivals the Stockton Thunder for the final time this season. The Bulls come in with a record of 24-35-8 and clinched their first playoff berth in team history, while the Thunder are 35-26-9 and are looking to maintain their position for home ice advantage in the first round. Last night, the Bulls fell to the Thunder in the shoot out after the Thunder tied the game with .1 of a second left in the third. New Bull Daultan Leveille gave the Bulls the lead late in the second period with a goal in his first game with the team. Taylor Nelson had an excellent performance in the net with 32 saves on 33 shots. The Bulls are 6-4-2 against Stockton this season and the winner of tonight’s contest takes the season series.
The Bulls offense created scoring chances last night as they piled on 38 shots, but they were unable to capitalize on the chances as they only had a single goal on the evening. A lot of that could be due to the fact that the roster has seen a lot of changes this week as Peter Sivak and Dean Ouellet were promoted to the AHL, while the Bulls added forwards Daultan Leveille, Nick Czinder, and Brett Findley and defensemen Will Lacasse and Antoine Corbin. That is a lot of roster turnover to deal with in a week. They will have to build chemistry quickly as the season is in the final weeks and the playoffs are rapidly approaching. The offense could also use a much better performance from the power play unit as they failed to convert on any of the five chances they were given last night. The Bulls also failed to convert on an early penalty shot that was awarded to Christian Ouellet midway through the first. Taylor Nelson had fantastic game in net by allowing only that last second goal. He did well to stand tall in the final period as he faced 17 total shots and surrendered the single goal. Nelson was good enough to win last night, but the offense needs to provide him with the goal support.
The Bulls would love Taylor Nelson to have a repeat performance of last night, but hopefully with more offensive support. The offense will need to do better on special teams as it can allow the offense to get into a rhythm. The sooner the newly added players get involved in the flow of the offense the better the Bulls’ playoff chances will look. This game will go a long way in telling how the team will handle a playoff type atmosphere as the Thunder want to take the season series against San Francisco and want to clinch home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. If the Bulls can produce on the power play they will win this game as Nelson should provide another solid performance.