SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Bulls professional hockey team announced June 26 the first player signing in franchise history.
Forward Peter Sivak joins the team after completing a career year in the Extraliga, Slovakia’s top professional ice hockey league. Olympic gold medal figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi and her husband, Stanley Cup winner Bret Hedican, were on hand to welcome Sivak to San Francisco and to announce the S.F. Bulls’ partnership with Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation.
“We’re extremely excited to have our first signing, and start with such a key piece to the roster,” said Bulls President/Head Coach Pat Curcio. “Peter brings invaluable experience and loads of talent. He will be one of our top gunners that fans will enjoy watching every night.”
The Slovakian native set the league record for fastest goal from the start of a game, scoring 4.08 seconds into the first period on Jan. 18 with MsHK Zilina against HK Poprad. Over 13 seasons, Sivak has recorded 232 points (110 goals, 122 assists) in 576 career games in the Slovakian and Czech Extraligas.
“I’m very happy to sign with the San Francisco Bulls,” said Sivak. “It’s a great opportunity for me to play my first year in North America.”
Curcio announced the team’s partnership with the Always Dream Foundation at the press conference. The foundation, whose goal is to empower children to reach their dreams through education and inspiration, will be the recipient of an upcoming fundraising event as part of the Bulls’ upcoming inaugural season.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the welcoming committee bringing professional hockey back into San Francisco,” said two-time Olympian and NHL All-Star defenseman Hedican.
Yamaguchi concurred, saying, “The fact that this new team is willing to get on board with the Always Dream Foundation and help us improve the lives of young people shows their commitment to the community, one that I am proud to serve.”
Sivak, 30, ranked tied for sixth with 51 points (21 goals, 30 assists) in the Extraliga in 2011-12. Among the five players ranked ahead of him in scoring were former NHL All-Stars Zigmund Palffy and Miroslav Satan. Sivak ranked first on his team, MsHK Zilina, in assists and points, and second in goals. He was also second on the team in plus/minus rating with a +18.
The Bulls will officially take the ice as an expansion team of the ECHL in October. They are part of the Western Conference of the ECHL and will play a 72-game schedule with 36 home games to take place at the legendary Cow Palace. For more information, including season ticket opportunities and corporate partnerships, visit http://sfbulls.com or call (415) 469-9843. You can also follow the Bulls on Facebook and Twitter.
The ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states. Today, the league has 23 teams in 16 states. The ECHL celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2012-13 and is the third-longest-tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
The ECHL has had 273 players reach the NHL over the last eight seasons. It’s the primary developmental league for the NHL and the AHL. On opening day of the 2010-11 season, 79 former ECHL players were on NHL rosters.
ECHL teams are divided into the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. The Western Conference includes the Alaska Aces, Bakersfield Condors, Colorado Eagles, Idaho Steelheads, Las Vegas Wranglers, Stockton Thunder, Ontario Reign, Utah Grizzlies and now the San Francisco Bulls. All teams play a 72-game schedule. For more information, visit http://www.echl.com/.
Founded in 1996 as a 501c(3) nonprofit public charity, Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation’s goal is to empower children to reach their dreams through education and inspiration. Since its inception, the foundation has sponsored a variety of programs to help support underprivileged children.
Committed to the belief that early childhood literacy is the foundation on which all academic and life success is built, the foundation has set its sights on dramatically improving access by children of low-income families to books and technology. Its newest initiative, “Always Reading,” is launching in the fall and will integrate interactive e-tablets with proven literacy programs in kindergarten classrooms in Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco.
On the Web: www.alwaysdream.org