Bulls, Fans Win!!!

A lot was riding on tonight’s game for the San Francisco Bulls. Losers of their inaugural game against the Bakersfield Condors, tonight’s rematch was the only remaining chance for a Bulls home victory before they head out on the road for the next three and a half weeks. Would they rise to the occasion? Would anyone show up after the sellout (tickets sold, plenty of empty seats) for the opener the night before?

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Either a grainy photograph of a Bulls goaltender warming up or indisputable proof of the existence of the legendary Cow Palace Wendigo.

The answer to the first question was a resounding yes. Despite incredibly shaky goaltending by starter Taylor Nelson, a plethora of goals propelled Team Toro to a 6-5 victory. A smattering of offensive wizardry by players whom I am not yet familiar with wowed the crowd. The highlight, however, was a spirited kill of a full two-minute five-on-three penalty after the Bulls were whistled for a minor while already on their heels defending a major infraction. The entire arena erupted into a spontaneous standing ovation to honor the boys’ effort.

The promotional giveaway of an orange cow bell was fun and I intend on bringing it to all future home games I attend. Much to my schaudenfreudelight (not a real word, but it should be), an enterprising middle-aged man was roving the stands attempting to sell an inferior black bell at 7 bucks a pop. To the man’s credit, his sardonic life-weary claim that “this is an item you’ll treasure for a lifetime” made me nearly spit up on myself laughing. But selling a $7 cowbell on cowbell giveaway night is an idea so ill-conceived it makes one question the man’s sanity. Or at the very least his grasp of the economic concept of supply and demand.

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First person to reference the Christopher Walken SNL skit gets a puck to the trachea.
There was a sharp drop-off in attendance. An announced crowd of approximately 3,600 was on hand to witness the team’s victory. Those in attendance were riveted for most of the game, unless that fancy new sound system is almost supernaturally adept at simulating crowd noise. A between-period trivia game of “Dead or Canadian?” was ghoulish and irreverent and hi-frikkin-larious! My jaw dropped (in a good way) that someone greenlit the idea. The suits at the Shark Tank have had their metaphorical panties in a twist ever since the genius idea of a pre-game jumbotron video showing Sharkie throwing an effigy of Eddie Belfour off the roof of San Jose Arena. I mean, how would Sharkie not know Belfour can’t fly? His nickname is, after all, “The Eagle.” Sharks in-game “entertainment” is cringe-inducingly lame and stuffy nowadays, and I for one am glad that the Bulls seem to have a sense of wicked humor about themselves.

Of course, these are merely the first impressions by a fan starving for hockey and feeling blessed that a new team came along when it did. These two blog posts are not meant to be propaganda or even necessarily promotional of the team. Merely snapshots in time from a blogger that wishes to inform Sharks fans, ECHL fans, and SF Bulls fans about the team and the quality of their on-and-off ice product in an entertaining way. That being said, The San Francisco Bulls are doing a lot of things right and I believe this will be quite a memorable season. Go Bulls!

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A Great Night Out– No Bull. Sorry. Last Pun, I promise.

Being a passionate fan of the National Hockey League can often feel like being in an abusive relationship. Gary Bettman and the NHLPA know damn well that whenever they end their foolish lockout that the fans will be back. We always come back.

As puck season approaches, true hockey loyalists feel that familiar tug on their heartstrings. The void that only pucks of vulcanized rubber and grown men with nicknames like “Buster” and “Pickles” can fill. But thanks to Pat Curcio and the San Francisco Bulls, professional men’s ice hockey has returned to the Bay Area.

President. General Manager. Owner. Head Coach. (Usher? Bathroom attendant?) Mr. Curcio is obviously a man of many hats and passionate about this fledgling franchise. Will the Bulls be able to win over Sharks fans, and sports fans in general, in a market already rife with so many choices available for one’s sporting dollar?

The tentative answer is a resounding yes. ECHL hockey is two notches below the level of the NHL (think AA baseball) but the action is still fast and furious. From the first drop of the puck, both teams competed hard and there was plenty of action. The Bulls dropped the game 4-3 to the Bakersfield Condors (a team name so stupid I wince just typing it) but the crowd was cheering and into the game from start to finish.

The Bulls and Condors about to face off in the offensive zone. Photo courtesy of Sara Razavi, and by courtesy I mean I stole it off her Facebook wall.

The mascot Rawhide was a huge hit with both kids and adults. The much maligned idea (in the uber-progressive land of Northern California anyway) of ice girls, or in this case the Cow Belles, was adorable. Having spent years watching a portly middle-aged man with a thick mustache and mop of curly fry hair clean up the ice at San Jose Arena, seeing cute girls in perfectly appropriate attire performing the task quicker and more efficiently was a welcome change of pace. $14.25 will get you in the building and fairly premium seating is available for $26.

It was a near-perfect night out with friends. My father is going through hockey withdrawl himself, and during the second intermission I purchased us a pair of tickets to attend Saturday’s contest. I highly encourage you to do the same, if for no other reason than the Bulls will be on the road until mid-November thanks to the Grand National Rodeo, Horse and Stock show taking over the Cow Palace for the next few weeks. HP Pavilion gets Lady Gaga, the Cow Palace gets teenage boys in bolo ties breeding goats. Still a few differences between the minors and “The Show”.

Though security rebuffed my attempts at interacting with the team’s cheerleaders the Cow Belles, I was able to get a picture with the Bulls’ mascot Rawhide. Not only that, he didn’t make nearly the fuss about my hand on his ass that the girls did.