How deep does your Shark fandom go? For many hockey fans the game begins in the NHL and ends in the NHL. However, the depth of hockey talent goes beyond the NHL. Behind the major league is the world of minor league hockey and it is worth paying attention to. Your San Jose Sharks- Logan Couture, Tommy Wingels, Joe Pavelski to name just a few got their beginnings with the AHL Affiliate Worcester Sharks. Backup netminder Alex Stalock, after injury sidelined him for the 2010-2011 season, spent time with the then ECHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks, the Stockton Thunder. Since that time, the Sharks have cemented a relationship with one of the newest ECHL teams, the San Francisco Bulls.
Starting their sophomore season just up the road from the Shark Tank (SAP Center), the Bulls have an old barn called the Cow Palace to call home. It is a twist of fate that some of San Jose’s future talent is getting their start on the same ice the Sharks Organization did in 1991. These young players are being checked into the same boards that veteran defenceman, 1st Team Captain and now GM Doug Wilson, drilled the opposing team 26 years ago.
The San Jose Sharks established an affiliate relationship with the Bulls in their inaugural 2012-2013 season and during the lockout then Shark Ryane Clowe could be found behind the bench with Bulls Head Coach Pat Curcio. The Sharks organization liked what they saw in the development of young players and particularly in two standout players, Marek Viedensky and Daniil Tarasov, both who attended Sharks Training Camp in September and now are making an impact for the Worcester Sharks.
In a press release from the Sharks organization back in August stating their renewed affiliation, Doug Wilson had nothing but praise for the fledgling team:
San Francisco provides a terrific option for us to place players in a situation where they can further develop themselves as hockey players. Bulls Head Coach Pat Curcio and his staff do a great job preparing the players to succeed and Daniil is a perfect example of that. He worked hard in San Francisco and Worcester and earned an NHL contract on the merit of his play.
John Tortora, Sharks COO remarked that it was important that the organization as a whole support the growth of hockey at all levels, particularly in the Bay Area.
The Bulls have done a great job putting a quality product on the ice. The Sharks Bay Area journey began in the San Francisco area and this is another opportunity for us to connect and engage with our many fans and supporters in the North Bay, which is home to more than 15% of our season ticket base.
The San Francisco Bulls are currently mentoring a number of Sharks prospects. Several players who started on ECHL contracts with the team last season began this year at Sharks training camp in Worcester. San Jose prospect Chris Crane has been making his presence on the Bulls forward lineup known with 3 goals and 2 assists on the season. Prospect Kyle Bigos is making a big impact on the blueline tallying 1g-1a and booking 21 penalty minutes so far this season.
Sharks Hockey’s future can be found just north of Sharks Territory in Bulls Country. If you haven’t experienced a game at the minor league level, then you are missing something incredible. These players play with their hearts on their sleeve every night, with every desire to make it to the next level. For some, the ECHL will be their highest playing achievement, but for others it is just a beginning to a bright future in the NHL. If you followed the ECHL, Jonathan Quick would already be a household name to you before he won a Stanley Cup. If you truly Bleed Teal, you can and you should “throw the Bullhorns” at the next San Francisco Bulls Hockey game, you might just witness the start of the next Sharks star.