Tri-City Storm Hockey

Today is:

                                               Adventures of Bus Bob

                      Bus Bob                                                         Storm Bus   

                                                          Getting Started

        Bob Haller was born at Litchfield, Nebraska, and grew up in Lincoln. But he spent summers with his cousins in Litchfield. The first vehicle he ever drove was not a car but his uncle’s 16-gear truck. When he was 14 his job was to drive his uncle’s cattle truck out to a pasture and scoop the manure out after a run. It was a hot, smelly job but Bob says it was cool, he got to drive the truck.

        At 18 Bob was driving the truck in Nebraska but not across state lines because a driver had to be 21 to do that. He became interested in bus driving when he saw some Continental buses at the state fair. That led to a summer job of driving a bus load of 4-H members to Washington, D.C. for a 3-week trip.

        But much as he enjoyed driving these large vehicles, Bob realized that a life on the road did not make for a very stable family life. So he finished his college education and for some 15 years was a music teacher. Then he became an insurance agent, and became a partner in an agency based in Lincoln. However he never lost his interest in driving trucks and buses.

                                                Becoming the Storm Driver

        Bob’s oldest daughter got him interested in hockey. She made him sit down with her and watch Stanley Cup playoffs. Then the Stars came to Lincoln and he saw how excited the fans were there. The announcement of a hockey franchise coming to Kearney was welcome news. When Bob read about Epply Express getting the contract to bus the team to away games, he called the owner and asked for the job of driver. The first couple of years he was not the exclusive driver because there were other full-time employees of Epply who also did some of the driving. But after that, it’s been Bob’s job.

                                                The Sioux Falls Adventure

        To Bob an adventure usually has a negative connotation. Take the Sioux Falls adventure for example. To begin with, Coach Littler became quite ill on the trip up there. Next the Stampede, who were at the bottom of the league at that time, shut out the Storm with an embarrassing score of 9-0. Then it was time to leave the arena and start the long journey home. Usually there is a route around the building to drive out of the parking lot. But that night the way was blocked by construction so Bob had to back the bus through the parking lot. It was dark and there was a black SUV still parked there….The car did not suffer any damage but the bus did not fare so well. Fortunately, Bob says, he was driving a back-up bus that night, not the nice big Storm bus.

                                         The Misbehavin’ Motor Adventure
        Then there was the “Trip from Hell” to Indiana, Chicago and Green Bay. They were just getting started, about half way through Iowa, when the computerized gauges indicated a malfunction. And there was also snow. When the bus stopped, the only way Bob could get it going again was to shut it down completely and start up again. But the switches are accessible only from the outside, at the back. This meant getting out and walking the length of the bus in knee-deep snow. And the bus stopped frequently. Finally they limped into Indianapolis and arrangements were made for a local bus to haul the team around town while Bob sought out a mechanic some 30 miles away who could work on the type of motor their bus had. After much adjusting, readjusting and several test drives, it seemed to be working all right. With misgivings they started off on the next leg of the journey, to Chicago, and did not have any more trouble after that. Who knows what the problem was!

The Speed Adventure

        There have been many stories about the “efficiency” with which Bob completes a trip. Storm fans attending away games can tell about times the team bus has passed them on the Interstate. But Bob drove thousands of miles before the flashing red light stopped him in the middle of the night in central Iowa. Just a week or so before that when asked if he had ever gotten a speeding ticket Bob had said no, not in about 24,000 miles. Coach Littler, being as superstitious as any hockey player, asked him why he would say a thing like that!



Revised: 07/08/2016