PELHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — This week the Birmingham Bulls head into the President’s Cup finals for the second time in team history following a successful regular season.
Head Coach Craig Simchuck told CBS 42 they would not be where they are without the support of the community. He said the relationship they have with the community and fans is unbelievable.
Coach Simchuck said they love playing at the Pelham Civic Complex because the fans are right on top of all the action.
He called them the 6th man on the ice that helps the team through every up and down with their continuous support.
Going into game 1 of the finals tomorrow, he said having the home-ice advantage is huge, hoping fans pack the house to give them that extra boost for a jump start in the series.
“I know we don’t have the biggest facility, but when we do get the fans in here it’s one big family,” said Coach Simchuck. “And that was my whole message to the owners of our team to the front office, to the players, and to the rink. We have to be on the same page and pulling in the same direction or we’re not going to go anywhere, and we’ve had that from day one.”
People with the Pelham Civic Complex told CBS 42 for anyone who may have questioned how well it would go over bringing hockey back into town almost 6 years ago, the team’s success speaks for itself.
Susie Gray, the Director of Figure Skating who also serves in marketing and sales at the civic complex, said the Bulls bring in an exciting element for people of all ages.
Gray says their presence has inspired many kids and their families to try new activities on the ice at the civic complex.
She also said the economic impact builds every year bringing in a lot of revenue throughout Pelham.
“It’s been great for the city because it brings in people in our restaurants, you know, they stop and shop and all that,” said Gray. “And then they see it and their kids watch and they’re like, ‘I want to play hokey too.’ And they get involved in our skate school and our ‘Learn to Play’ and it’s just, it’s great you know new activity. And then sometimes when the kids start playing ‘Learn to Play’ dad is like, or mom, ‘I want to play too.’ So it’s just such a cool thing.”
Coach Simchuck tells me they’ve had a rollercoaster journey, but that their growth really put hockey back on the map here.
He said resiliency through any obstacles faced has helped their team reach their goals.
He also says their relationship with the community and fans here is key- calling them the 6th man on the ice. Coach Simchuck said they are excited for the success they’ve seen, but the job isn’t done
“High expectations- I know the University of Alabama and then the Stallions come in and then you’ve got the G-League basketball and the Barons in baseball, I mean, now that we’re finally making a name for ourselves it’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Coach Simchuck. “It took a bit, but now we’re rolling and people know who the bulls are.”
Looking to the future, Coach Simchuck said their players love this team and many plan to return to continue on a road of success.
The drops for Game 1 of the President’s Cup finals Thursday at 7p.m. The Bulls will battle it out against Roanoke in a five game series.