After recording five points against the Ontario Reign on Friday, San Francisco Bulls center Marek Viedensky jumped onto the microphone at the Cow Palace.
“It feels great to play here,” he told the crowd. “You’re our seventh man on the ice.”
The admiration is mutual. The Bulls are 5-1 since Viedensky’s arrival from Worcester of the American Hockey League on
Nov. 15. The team had dropped nine of 10 games before the Slovakian center joined the roster.
“He’s a guy who makes the players around him better,” Bulls forward Dean Ouellet said.
No one is benefiting from Viedensky’s presence more than linemate Peter Sivak.
The Czech forward is currently riding a six-game point streak (four goals, six assists) and he put together back-to-back three-point games against the Bakersfield Condors and Ontario last week.
“We’re from the same country [the former Czechoslovakia] and most of the guys there play the same kind of style,” Viedensky said. “I know where he’s supposed to be and we can talk in our own language.”
Viedensky has registered 10 points (four goals, six assists) in six games with the Bulls.
Special teams: Another key to the current four-game winning streak by the Bulls (8-10-2) is improved special teams play.
The Bulls’ 4-2 victory in Bakersfield a week ago was fueled by three power-play goals and the team added two more against Ontario three days later. At one point, the Bulls had converted five of six power-play opportunities.
Prior to the breakout, the Bulls had scored only twice in 29 power-play chances.
“We’ve talked about using the defenseman and establishing our power play from the middle of the ice,” said Sharks forward Ryane Clowe, who is working with the team on special teams. “We love to get it to the top, to the points and bomb it.”
But penalty killing was the difference in a 6-3 win over the Stockton Thunder on Saturday. After jumping out to a 4-2 lead, the Bulls gave the Thunder a chance to play catch-up by committing four penalties in the game’s final 30 minutes. But they shut the door with tight defense, stifling the Thunder’s power play each time.
The Bulls are currently in sixth place in the ECHL’s Western
Hats off: Ouellet recorded the first hat trick in franchise history during Saturday’s win. He now leads the team with 10 goals this season.
The hat trick was Ouellet’s first since he played junior hockey for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League five years ago.
Ouellet said his first professional hat trick was particularly special because his parents were in town visiting from Edmundston, New Brunswick.
“They’ve never been to California, so it was awesome for them,” he said.