Bull Droppings 2: More News and Notes

With the announcement that the NHL lockout is over and the San Jose Sharks season will be in full swing a month from now, we can officially announce the Bay Area’s honeymoon with the San Francisco Bulls is over. Beginning with the Thirsty Thursday tilt against the Idaho Steamheads, the Bulls will no longer be the sole option for hockey fans in Nothern California. How severe will the drop-off in attendance be? My guess will be minimal, as hockey lovers continue to welcome a low-cost alternative to Team Teal. The homespun atmosphere, Cow Belle ice girls, and more accessible players are three assets unique to the Cow Palace inhabitants. For a fun night out that doesn’t break the bank you can’t go wrong with minor league hockey.


mitchell bulls
I was in attendance for the much-hyped debut of former San Jose Shark Torrey Mitchell, one of 2032 who attended the Wednesday night game. Mitchell scored the team’s first goal and the weekday crowd went wild. I was too busy shoveling 2-For-1 hot dogs into my gaping maw to stand up and cheer (see photo below) but you couldn’t have asked for a better start to a game.

Unfortunately, the Bulls lost 2-1 in a shootout. The ECHL shootout goes 5 rounds, not 3, and had they adhered to NHL shootout rules the Bulls would have won the game. Alas, it was not to be. Goaltender Taylor Nelson is improving in leaps and bounds after taking over the reins from injured Thomas Heemskirk.


Forward Dean Ouellet has been scoring at a feverish clip for the SF Bulls (17 goals, 14 assists) and the ECHL league office has taken notice, making him a 2012 All-Star. Can a call-up to Worcester be far behind? It should be interesting to see how the Bulls deal with what will now be an ever-changing lineup with the major league players back to work.

Unfairly maligned by (pure conjecture here) bitter post-menopausal women, the Cow Belles took this in stride and have been phenomenal ambassadors for the fledgling franchise. Easily dismissed as eye candy, these girls are impeccable skaters themselves and do a great job of keeping energy up during lulls in the game. Belle Annalysa performed admirably in an on-air interview during Comcast Home Network’s telecast of a game late last month (see stolen photo below). God bless professional hockey players, but most have the charisma of a piece of aged driftwood. A young, well-spoken and attractive promoter can be a godsend in a cluttered marketplace. Follow all things Cow Belle at their new Facebook fan page here: http://www.facebook.com/sfcowbelles


Bulls Opening Night Redux

The San Francisco Bulls returned last night from what seemed to be a month-long road trip to take on the Stockton Thunder. NHLer Theo Peckham was in full Bulls regalia, and Sharks favorite Ryane Clowe was behind the bench as the Bulls prepared to stem a six-game (I think… info was not readily available on the web and, not being paid to keep this site up, my interest in research is lax to say the least) losing streak. The Beast From the East seemed fired up behind the bench, and appeared to be very into the game. In this picture, we see him focused on the action to the left of Bulls head coach, general manager, team president, and program vendor Pat Curcio.

The crowd of 6,024 was more subdued for this game. There was much to cheer for, as the team rolled to a 4-1 win behind the stellar netminding of Thomas Heemskerk. Fans were into the action as a respite from the NHL lockout, which is close to dragging into its third month. The on-ice product took a major leap forward from the slow, lethargic play the Bulls put forth on the road. It really does seem like the players feed off the energy of the home crowd.

As a partial season ticket holder (the 12-pack flex pak) I had great seats for $24, 2 bucks lower than the regular admission price to sit in the dress circle. I invited my two fat friends (see picture below) and felt petite as a Disney princess stuffed between the two behemoths. As usual, Steve spent most of the game dicking around on his smart phone and ignoring the on-ice action. Our generation has the attention span of a fruit fly, and our nation is doomed.

Whether this victory is just an pleasant abberation, or a sign that the Bulls are starting to gel as a team, is yet to be seen. I sure do hope it is the latter. With Team Toro already #5 in league attendace, I could definitely see them making huge strides in fan base if the NHL lockout continues. For diehard hockey fans, especially those who love the idea of spending a night out cheering on a bunch of blue-collar players still chasing the dream of playing in the National Hockey League, the Bulls are top-notch. Great value, great concessions, great venue. The Ice Girls dancing around to Nine Inch Nails’ track “Closer” wasn’t too shabby either. Next game I attend, I hope to see Ryane Clowe in uniform and laying down checks. Or purchasing life insurance from Pat Curcio, who will be selling reasonable plans for all income groups between periods, adjacent to the Chuck-a-Puck kiosk


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?

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.

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!