The Amarillo Bulls celebrate last season after qualifying for their fourth North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup tournament in 10 years. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
Amarillo Bulls by the numbers
Years as franchise: 10th
Bulls all-time record: 337-195-67
All-time Postseason record: 37-14-6
NAHL Robertson Cup championships: 1 (2012-2013).
NAHL Robertson Cup appearances: 4
NAHL South Division titles: 4
College commitments: 102
Amarillo Bulls head coaches
Dennis Williams (2010-2014)
Jon Rogger (2014-2015)
Matt Nicholson (2015-2017)
Rocky Russo (2017-present)
It’s more than a home opener for the Amarillo Bulls when they drop the puck against the Shreveport Mudbugs at 7:05 p.m. Friday night at the Amarillo Cal Farley Civic Center Coliseum.
Sure, there is a game to be played, but more importantly the Bulls will be celebrating a memorable milestone.
The 2019-2020 season marks the 10th anniversary season as a junior hockey franchise in Amarillo.
The franchise came to Amarillo from Albert Lea, MN., for the 2010-2011 season, and have been a staple to a beloved fanbase ever since.
Recapping a decade of Amarillo Bulls hockey, It’s astonishing what this team has accomplished in a short time.
The Bulls hold an all-time record of 337-195-67, including the postseason.
The Bulls have won four NAHL South Division championships, appeared in four NAHL Robertson Cup tournaments and won the 2012-2013 NAHL championship under former coach Dennis Williams (2010-2014).
The Amarillo Bulls celebrate after winning the 2013 NAHL Robertson Cup. [provided photo]
The Bulls current coach, Rocky Russo, was an assistant under Williams during the first three years, helping start the program from the ground up.
Entering his third year as the head coach, no one is more dedicated to the Bulls progression than Russo.
“It’s been special,” said Russo, who is 79-38-20, as the Bulls coach. I was here as an assistant for the inception in 2010. It was a lot of work to build the program. We needed Billet families, we needed to build a fanbase. We had to overcome the idea that it wasn’t professional hockey. Ten years later, it’s amazing to see where we’ve come. We have a national championship here. It’s special for me to be here during the 10th Anniversary, and it’s something we should be proud of.”
Russo’s worked his way into one of the most respected coaches in junior hockey at any level, while his reputation fits the model of what junior hockey is driven toward.
Russo is a master recruiter, and does his best to pave the way for players vying for college scholarships.
Because of men like Russo, and his coaching staff, Amarillo has been one of the best in the NAHL at developing players. There have been 32 Bulls players sign a college scholarship in Russo’s tenure as coach and 102 total commits in Amarillo’s 10 years.
“Obviously we want to win hockey games,” Russo said. ”This is a business and we want to sell corporate sponsorships, and sell tickets. But for me, the most satisfying moment is seeing the look on one of these players faces when they receive that offer, and accept it. The excitement and pure joy is something you can’t replace with a win. If we can move 10 to 12 of these guys on, and make them NCAA student-athletes, that’s what are job ultimately is.”
The Bulls are off to a 3-1 start in the early portion of the schedule after having a 3-0 run at the NAHL Showcase last weekend.
Amarillo and Shreveport play a two-game series on Friday and Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. at the Cal Farley Civic Center Coliseum.
For tickets or more information, go to this link. https://www.amarillobulls.com/