Saturday, March 9, 2013


Or: My Adventures with Grumpy Russians, Annoying Drums & Drunk Bimbos

The wind whipped down from San Bruno Mountain through the parking lot of the Barn causing my allergies to bloom out of control. I’ve been sniffing out of control all day. Spring is here indeed.

Friday night was the second game in the battle between the Bulls and Alaska Aces. And battle it was…

Before getting into the game, yesterday, Thomas Heemskerk was called up to San Jose due to Sharks backup Goalie Thomas Greiss’ injury. So, it would be Taylor Nelson with no one backing him up. The team frantically looked for someone to back him up just in case something happened. They found a friend of Hans Benson who owns a motorcycle shop to fill in. I’m very happy for Heemer; this is his first chance to shine in the biggies. On a more selfish note, Alex Stalock should be there from Worcester shortly, so we should be getting Heemer back soon, and that is good for the Bulls.

Nick Walsh and Tristan King

Warm ups was the usual cool social gathering time for fans. I love this time to get some pics and say hi to my hockey friends. With so many new members, it was nice to be able to get a bit more familiar with their faces, skating styles and try to memorize their numbers. Was also fun watching a friend of the emergency backup goalie laughing at him from the glass. I think the backup was maybe as tall as I am and I’m only five feet, four inches.  

Jordan Morrison & Dylan King

As I was doing my usual thing during the warm-ups, four older, very large guys walked up to the glass, all wearing European jerseys. They didn’t say anything. They just stuck together like an Eastern European wall, frowning while watching the Bulls.

Grumpy Russians
I smiled broadly and said “Hi!”. They said nothing and didn’t smile at all. A couple of them kept their arms folded. OK, so they were Grumpy Russians, as was to call them the rest of the night. Now, I understand that they probably couldn't speak English, but everyone worldwide knows what Hi means. I’ve traveled to many countries and the best way to get non-English speakers to open up is to be as friendly as possible and welcoming. These fellas, though filled the stereotype of stoic Russians.

The Aces won this game 3-2, but as I stated earlier, it was a real battle! From the very start the Aces seemed to have chips on their shoulders. One Ace player hit Yanni Gourde super hard and Ian Schultz stepped up and fought him. Minutes later, Mikael Tam was into it with another Ace player. The entire First Period was filled with chirps from both sides. I think the Alaska management should spend a bit more and get a better hotel because their players were really cranky! Maybe they need a better night’s sleep before the game.

Schultz Getting Chippy

The Aces scored first and the Bulls kept up for most of it, but in the end the Aces had one more winning goal. But it was a great effort. Taylor Nelson did an incredible job. Yanni was his usual Roadrunner self, zipping through the Aces lines as if they were in slow-mo. He scored first for the Bulls and Bryan Cameron made his first Bulls goal in this game as well. The team plays together better than ever in their brief history. There’s a great chemistry between the members. I thought if they had had this line-up a few months earlier, how things would be so different!

It was a nice size crowd for the game. Friday and Saturday night’s games are the team’s Eco-Friendly weekend. They gave away reusable grocery bags last night and Saturday night’s game are travel mugs.

Attacking the Aces net

I took a few minutes and talked to one of the men who wear the ECHL jackets. Mike, his name is and he told me how the ECHL officials work. They’re all volunteers. There’s about a dozen of them and they do this because they love hockey. They’re hired directly by the ECHL so there’s no connection between them and the Bulls and thereby no bias in their decisions.  

Also during the game there was a drum group. They were talented and provided some entertaining beats between the action and during the intermissions. However, I do have a gripe. When the play resumes on the ice, they need to stop playing. Throughout the game last night this drum group kept going on while the game was in action. This was not only distracting for the crowd, but could have been a hindrance to our players. So, if you want to do your thing during downtimes, that’s good, but be aware of what’s going on in the game.

Me with Ian Schultz & Kory Falite

I take the free shuttle the team provides from BART. It’s an excellent idea and I love the fact that I don’t have to be herded onto another MUNI bus to get to games. Last night they must have been short on buses or drivers or both. One of the buses used was a limo bus, which I had never seen before. Some drunk girls in front of me squealed that they were going to be on the “good” bus. When it was obvious that there wasn’t room for us on that bus and that we’d have to wait for the next one. One of the girls had plowed her way onto the limo bus and threw a fit and didn’t want to get off after she was told she would have to because it was already full. The manager at the stop kept trying to tell her there wasn’t room but she wouldn’t listen. The regular shuttle bus pulled up behind the limo bus in the meantime so the rest of us readied to get on it.

“I don’t want to get on that one,” she whined.

“OK,” I told her, “then you can walk to BART. The rest of us will take THIS shuttle bus.”

She shut up for a few minutes. But then, when I was talking about hockey to one of the cool ushers who take the shuttle, she spouted that basketball is better. So I knew as much about her as I ever needed to know. I laughed to myself, shook my head and continued my conversation with the usher.

Over the months since the Bulls started, the ushers have gotten into the swing of things and do a great job. Most of them are friendly and I love greeting them when I go to games. It wouldn’t be the same without them. I worked in the rock music business for a long time, so I know how much it means to ushers when patrons are nice to them. Be nice to your usher.


Bulls play the final game against the Aces tonight, Saturday at the Barn. You’d better be there, going to raise the roof.

Tomorrow, San Francisco take on the Las Vegas Wranglers to avenge the beating the team took from them last weekend.