Bulls set to swim in the Shark Tank

Second only to a vacant Christmas tree lot at the beginning of January, there might not be anything more desolate — or more eerily quiet — than an empty sports arena during a lockout.

Such has been the case at HP Pavilion in San Jose, which despite hosting concerts and other spectacles year-round, is left without the trademark atmosphere that takes over during Sharks season.

No flood of folks from a Caltrain ride packed with fellow fans in turquoise jerseys. No deafening horn echoing through the rafters after each goal. No fans mimicking a shark’s bite with out-stretched arms and clapped hands when the home team goes on the power play.

Sure, the Bay Area has been very welcoming to the San Francisco Bulls, the Sharks’ new ECHL affiliate. But like a nagging cold that won’t go away, it’s hard to ignore: Sharks Territory is in dire need of a hockey fix.

The Bulls announced a potential cure Tuesday: A Bulls home game at HP Pavilion in San Jose on Monday, December 17 against the division rival Stockton Thunder. And even better? It’s totally free.

President and Head Coach Pat Curcio said Wednesday that the team is very happy to bring Bulls hockey to the South Bay:

“The Sharks reached out to us to play the at HP Pavilion. They said the people in the area were in need of some hockey, and that having an ECHL game at their arena would be one was to help fill that void. It was a unique opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”

Nor will it be a game for Sharks fans to miss, considering that they haven’t had the opportunity to watch hockey at the Pavilion since April 19 when the Sharks hosted the  St. Louis Blues in the ’11-’12 playoffs.

This game replaces a Wednesday, January 16 match-up between the two teams at the Cow Palace. And as a “thank-you” to fans who have come out to support the Bulls, the game and even the parking will be free, with first dibs going to Sharks and Bulls ticket holders. Both teams’ season ticket holders will be receiving an email with with ticket information in the not-too-distant-future.

The San Francisco Bulls will be at home at the Cow Palace tonight to host the Bakersfield Condors. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m.