DALY CITY — With a culture and an identity established in the locker room, the San Francisco Bulls are looking to make a leap up the standings in their second year.
The Bulls’ inaugural season reached a conclusion on Saturday when the Alaska Aces eliminated them from the Kelly Cup playoffs with a 4-1 series win. But coach Pat Curcio said he is proud of the way his team finished the season.
“From October to where we are today, we’re a completely different hockey team,” he said. “We battled, we got in the playoffs and we did really well against that Alaska team. A couples goals here or there and we could be playing Game 6 and 7 this week.”
With a strong nucleus returning, the Bulls are aiming for a better than .500 season next year and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Bulls will submit their protected list to the league on July 1 and it will include players like captain Scott Langdon, Dean Ouellet, Kris Belan, Nick Czinder, Brett Findlay, Dylan King and Christian Ouellet.
Tristan King is signed to an NHL contract with the Dallas Stars, so he will play with one of the organization’s affiliates next season. Bryan Cameron’s contract with the Calgary Flames is now expired, but he will likely seek a new NHL deal, so a future with the Bulls is doubtful.
Leading scorer Peter Sivak is also a candidate to sign an NHL contract this summer, but if not, Curcio said he’ll be back in a Bulls uniform.
Veteran Jordan Morrison’s future is also up in the air at this point. He is considering an offer to play in Europe while returning to school to earn a law degree.
“I’m at a different point in my career and I don’t know if I’ll be back,” Morrison said. “If I’m going to be back in this league, I’ll definitely be back here.”
Curcio said he hopes to add a goal-scoring touch through free agency this summer.
“Other than [Dean] Ouellet and Sivak, we didn’t have much as far as skill,” he said. “We’d like to have three or four guys who can score 20 goals.”
The Bulls coach said the team also needs to address its goaltending issues, but first it must renew its affiliation with the San Jose Sharks.
“I don’t know why it wouldn’t be, but it still has to be redone,” Curcio said.
Morrison said The City itself should help to attract high-quality free agents during the offseason.
“I think it will always be a big draw because people will take pay cuts to live in San Francisco,” he said.