|League||Ontario Hockey League|
|Home arena||Yardmen Arena|
|Colours||Black, red, gold, white |
The Belleville Bulls were a junior ice hockey team, founded in 1981 and based in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. The team played in the Eastern Division of the Eastern Conference of the Ontario Hockey League. The team moved to Hamilton, Ontario at the end of the 2014-15 OHL season.
The Belleville Bulls started in 1979 as a Junior Tier II team in the OHA. In their second season in 1980-81, the Bulls won the Tier II title, defeating the Guelph Platers in the league finals. The Bulls then competed in the national championship for the Manitoba Centennial Trophy hosted in Halifax, Nova Scotia losing in the finals to the Prince Albert Raiders.
On February 2, 1981, the OHL granted an expansion franchise to the city of Belleville and the ownership group of Dr. Robert L. Vaughan & Bob Dolan. Dr. Robert L. Vaughan remained an owner/co-owner of the team for over 20 years until he sold the team in 2004 to Gord Simmonds. Dr. Vaughan was awarded the Bill Long award in 1993 for distinguished service to the OHL.
In 1983, Belleville hosted the OHL All-Star Game, known then as the OHL Chrysler Cup.
The Bulls reached the OHL finals in 1986 versus a familiar foe from their Tier II days, the Guelph Platers. The Platers won the series in 6 games. In 1995 and 1996, the Bulls lost in the semi-finals to the Guelph Storm.
The 1999 season would be one for the memories when the Belleville Bulls would win it all. The Bulls defeated the London Knights 9-2 in game seven of the OHL championship series at the Yardmen Arena to win their first J. Ross Robertson Cup.
In the 2005-06 season, the Belleville Bulls celebrated their 25th anniversary in the OHL. The team also hosted the annual OHL All-Star game for the second time, on February 1, 2006. The Bulls set a season-best record of 102 points earned during the 2007-08 regular season.
In 2007-08, the Bulls made a trip to the Memorial Cup by virtue of Kitchener winning the Western Conference, and being the host, Belleville would get in as the OHL representative. The Bulls would lose the semi-final game 9-0 against the hosting team, the Kitchener Rangers, who would eventually lose to the Spokane Chiefs in the championship game.
On March 12, 2015, Michael Andlauer announced that he had acquired the Belleville Bulls, and that they would move to Hamilton's FirstOntario Centre for the 2015-16 season to become the Hamilton Bulldogs. The Hamilton Bulldogs, an American Hockey League franchise, was concurrently sold to the Montreal Canadiens and moved to St. John's, Newfoundland for the 2015-16 season as the St. John's IceCaps (the True North Sports and Entertainment-owned IceCaps, which was affiliated with the Winnipeg Jets, moved back to Winnipeg as the Manitoba Moose).
Leyden Trophy East Division Regular Season Champions
Bobby Orr Trophy Eastern Conference Champions
J. Ross Robertson Cup Championships: 1999
Memorial Cup Appearances: 2
Lou Crawford was groomed by Mavety to replace him behind the Bulls' bench. Lou Crawford is the brother of NHL Coach Marc Crawford, who was also the coach of the St. John's Maple Leafs (now the Toronto Marlies) in the AHL, which played in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Their father, Floyd Crawford, was team captain of the 1959 World Champion Belleville McFarlands.
Former coaches Lou Crawford and Shawn MacKenzie both had brief NHL careers. George Burnett briefly coached with the Edmonton Oilers. James Boyd is the only former Bulls player to later coach the Belleville team.
(Multiple years in parentheses)
Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy
Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy
OHL Goaltender of the Year
F.W. "Dinty" Moore Trophy
Wayne Gretzky 99 Award
Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy
William Hanley Trophy
Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy
Bobby Smith Trophy
Jack Ferguson Award
Legend: OL = Overtime loss, SL = Shootout Loss
The team has played all homes games at the Belleville Yardmen Arena (capacity 3,257) for the existence of the franchise. The Yardmen Arena is part of the Quinte Sports Centre which is composed of the Yardmen Arena and the Wally Dever arena which is home to the Belleville McFarlands, an OHA Senior team, and is also used by minor hockey teams.