During the Savannah Ghost Pirates’ inaugural season, there were a total of six goaltenders to have been on the roster – one of these being Michael Bullion from Anchorage, Alaska. The 26-year-old has played in the ECHL for a total of two seasons on three different teams as of this off-season.
I got the chance to speak with Bullion, and when I asked him what originally got him into the sport, he replied by saying that his family actually started him off with figure skating. “Unfortunately, during my first session out, I went full-tilt right into a line full of girls. I didn’t know how to stop, so I knocked everybody down. Then they said, ‘Nope, you’re going into hockey.’” He went on to tell me that he started playing as a goalie because of the gear, the ice time, as well as guys like Patrick Roy.
During his time spent during the 2021-22 season with the Norfolk Admirals, he played in a total of 9 games. He had a 0.912 save percentage and 2.67 goals against average. That season, he ended up spending some time with the Atlanta Gladiators, however, he did not end up playing any minutes wearing their colors.
As far as pre-games go, I asked him about any specific songs he listens to, and he said he listens to almost anything electronic in the car on the way to games, but not usually when he’s at the arenas. When asked about any rituals, he said he has a fair share of them. He does implement some of the more common ones into his pregame, such as stretching and foam rolling, as well as some hand-eye coordination drills. He also mentioned to me that he isn’t as talkative on game days as he usually is as he tries to get into the game-day mindset. “I like to be in my own little zone. The only person who can really get much out of me is Elijah Vilio.”
Vilio and Bullion have played together for three different teams as of this season: Atlanta, Norfolk, and Savannah. They have a very tight bond on and off the ice. Michael says that they would sometimes warm up together by doing some hand-eye coordination drills back and forth with one another before games. Bullion rightfully claims that “We are the dynamic duo”.
Those who watch and follow hockey know that players can be very specific about what they eat and the coffee they drink before games. For Michael Bullion, he said, “Depends on the game. If it’s an earlier game, it’s probably gonna be a black espresso or black coffee, depending on what I have access to. For night games, I’ll probably add in a bit more sugar, like I’ll get the sweet vanilla cream cold brew.” He says that he prefers Dunkin Donuts as opposed to Starbucks.
The next season, being this most recent one, would also be started off with the Admirals, as he played in 18 of their first few games. In those 18, his goals against average was 4.08, and his save percentage was 0.87. At some point during last season, Bullion was in between the pipes for the Macon Mayhem of the SPHL. He left there with two wins and a loss under his belt. The majority of his 2022-23 season would be spent with the inaugural season Savannah Ghost Pirates, as they were undergoing an immense amount of goalie changes through their affiliate line due to multiple injuries. Despite him being the new kid on the block, Bullion managed to fit right in with the Hostess City and quickly picked up more than a handful of Southern fans.
While he was with the Ghost Pirates, Michael picked up 12 wins in 34 games, including two shootout wins and a single shutout. He finished the season in the South with a save percentage of 0.890 and a 3.72 goals against average. He spent a total of 1836 minutes on the ice in Ghost Pirate green and faced 1032 shots while only allowing 114 to hit the back of the net. Due to the fact that he won two out of the three shootouts he was in between the pipes for, his shootout percentage was 77.8%. As he faced a total of 18 shots in shootouts, he only allowed four to go in the net.
Michael Bullion is a very strong goalie with an innate skill and ability to focus hard and keep it going for 60 minutes on the ice. Just by watching him save a few shots, it can be seen just how incredible his ability to lock down his target and be prepared for any kind of move they could make to try and sneak the puck in. No matter what the score reads, he keeps his head up and gets ready to make the next period his best yet. He will be playing for the Savannah Ghost Pirates for the 2023-24 season.
I asked him about the things that he did while he was in Savannah and the places he liked the most. “Tuzz would always take us to the Warehouse. I fell in love with the burgers there.” He brought up how the whole team went on one of the local trolley tours. Of the places they visited on the tour, he mentioned that he loved seeing Forsyth Park, Lady and Sons, which is a restaurant owned by Paula Deen, and Web’s Military Museum. As far as what he wants to do this upcoming season in the South, Bullion said he’d love to go fishing, as well as try a ghost tour. Above all, he told me he wants to learn more about the city itself. “I’m a big history fan.” When I asked him what his first impression of Savannah as a whole was, he told me, “When I got to Savannah, I didn’t really know what to expect. I mean, it’s the South, and it’s a new team; I knew there were gonna be some growing pains, but overall, they were a super professional and well-run organization.” Overall, he loved the city, the fans, and the environment as a whole. Of all of the team-bonding activities together, Bullion stated that the meals together were probably their favorites.
I want to close out with something that Bullion said during my interview with him that just really stood out to me about the team. “My favorite thing that we did as a team was probably just eating meals together. Especially the pregame meals, we’d kinda sit in this big room together. And some of them would say, ‘Oh, I had the most fun drinking,’ but for me, it’s just sitting together with the group of guys, and everyone is just chatting is when you just feel the closest to the guys, you know you’re going to war that night, but you know that these guys are all just gonna dive in front of pucks and block shots. They’re gonna eat a puck with their teeth, they’re gonna hit a guy because they so much as glared at you. To me, that’s just where you bond with those guys; it’s just talking with people that you know have got your back…I know that he’s gonna try his best to score a goal so that we win a game, and he knows that I’m gonna do my best to block a goal so we can win the game.”
When I had the opportunity to speak with Bullion, we discussed his time playing in the ECHL, his playing style as a whole, and much more. My interview with him is attached below. I look forward to seeing him continue to protect the nets of Savannah for this 2023-24 season.