Bulls Welcome First Place Aces As They Begin Four Game Homestand: Game Preview


ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News Alex Hudson of Alaska cannot guide the puck into the net as he is sandwiched defensively by goaltender Taylor Nelson, left, and Cody Carlson of San Francisco during second-period action Friday evening Jan. 25, 2013 at Sullivan Arena. ERIK HILL — Anchorage Daily News

The Bulls get ready to kick off a four game homestand as they face the Alaska Aces tonight. The Bulls (21-31-7) are still in the thick of the race for a seventh seed as they trail the Grizzlies by five points, while the Aces (43-12-6) are in first place of the west and six points ahead of Ontario. The Bulls are coming off a six game road trip in which they went 2-4 and got embarrassed in their final game the Wranglers thrashed them to the tune of six to two. The Aces are on fire as they have won eight of their last nine games and are currently on a four game winning streak. The Bulls are 2-4 against Alaska on the season and took two of three against them the last time they met.

The Bulls played well in four of the six games during the road trip and could have easily went 4-2 over the trip. The Bulls scored 13 goals during the six game stretch as the offense failed to get going in the losses as nine of the 13 goals came from the two wins. A major issue that was magnified during the trip was the Bulls lack of success on the power play. The unit constantly failed to mount any momentum as they scored just once on 22 chances during the road trip. Special teams play becomes even more crucial during the final stretch as teams clamp down defensively during even strength. The Bulls made another massive trade as they made a seven player deal with Utah on Tuesday. The Bulls sent defenseman Cody Carlson and forwards Jordan Clendenning, Jonathan Lessard, and Sebastian Trudeau to Utah in exchange for forwards Kory Falite and Ian Schultz and defenseman Mark Isherwood. The Bulls added some championship experience with Falite and Isherwood, who helped Alaska win the Kelly Cup in 2011. The Bulls will miss Carlson as he had 12 points in 22 games with the Bulls as he provided the offensive spark with his ability to move the puck and set up teammates. All three players should be in the lineup tonight for San Francisco.

The Aces come to San Francisco clicking on all cylinders with 11 wins in the last 13 games. During their current four game winning the Aces have out scored their opponents 11 to two. Their leading score Nick Mazzolini has been on fire with 15 points (six goals and nine assists) over his last 10 games. He currently sits as the second best goal scorer in the league with 32 goals. Second leading scorer Gary Nunn has eight points over his last seven games and had a six game point streak broken last game. Aces goalie Gerald Coleman has been spectacular over his last three starts as he has 73 saves on 74 shots and two shutouts. Their other goalie Mark Guggenberger has played well also with 69 saves on 74 shots. These two have been key to the success of the Aces’ defense during their run of success. It is a defense that will severely test the struggling Bulls offense.