Bulls improve to 6-0, only unbeaten team in SPHL

Published 3:30 pm Monday, November 12, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

MOLINE, Ill. – The Birmingham Bulls are on a tear to start the 2018-19 season and that continued with two more wins over the weekend of Nov. 9, sweeping the Quad City Storm with two one-point victories to improve to 6-0 this season, including one five-goal comeback, making them the only unbeaten team in the Southern Professional Hockey League.

Birmingham still sits behind the Macon Mayhem atop the points standings, as the Mayhem have a total of 17 points thanks to an overall record of 8-0-1, while Peoria also has now regulation losses and sits tied with the Bulls at 12 points with a record of 5-0-2.

Below are recaps from both wins against Quad City.

Birmingham 6, Quad City 5

In the opener of this two-day doubleheader, the Bulls found themselves down by a score of 5-0 with 4:54 to play in the second period, but managed to score six-unanswered goals to pull off a miraculous 6-5 victory in overtime.

Quad City was able to storm out to its 5-0 lead thanks to a dominant start to the second period. After Joe McKeown scored just 3:46 into the game to give the Storm a 1-0 advantage, the rest of the first period was scoreless, but Donald Olivieri posted two goals in the first 4:05 of the second period, both on the power play, to put Quad City up 3-0.

The Storm added to that lead with one more goal from McKeown and one from Mitchell Mueller to take a 5-0 lead with 4:54 to play in the third period.

Despite odds against them, the Bulls didn’t panic or lose hope and with 49 seconds to play in the period, Garrett Schmitz added their first goal of the game to make the score 5-1 heading to the final period.

While the first 11:17 of the third period went by scoreless, making Birmingham’s chance of a comeback look more and more slim, Jacob Barber gave the Bulls hope with 8:43 remaining when he turned a Quad City power play into a rare short-handed goal to cut the Bulls’ deficit to 5-2, which quickly turned all of the momentum.

Just more than a minute later, Justin Larson posted the first of his two back-to-back goals in a two-minute span that eventually cut the Storm’s lead to 5-4 with 6:44 remaining.

For a while, it looked like that was how the game was set to end with the final minute of the game coming and the Bulls still trailing by a goal.

With an extra attacker on the ice, however, Schmitz was able to fire a goal on net at just the right time with an extra attacker on the ice and found the back of the net for the game-tying goal with 50 seconds remaining.

In overtime, with all of the momentum now on the Bulls’ side, Larson was able to put his hat-trick goal in the back of the net very quickly to end the comeback with a 6-5 overtime victory.

Larson ended the game with five points, while Geoff Crisfield added four and Schmitz had three points. 

Birmingham 2, Quad City 1

With 11 combined goals in the Friday night matchup, the three combined goals on Saturday were a drastic change, but the outcome was the same; a one-point Birmingham victory.

This time the Bulls played from ahead thanks to an early power-play goal from Loren Ulett, who put Birmingham on the board with 11:20 left in the second period after a scoreless opening period.

Quad City’s Phil Bronner tied things at 1-1 five minutes later, which set up for another thrilling final period.

In the third period, Birmingham’s Mike Davis broke the tie with 12:24 remaining to put the Bulls in front 2-1, and with Mavic Parks playing lights out in goal, it was a lead they were able to hold on to giving them their sixth win of the season.

Larson, Taylor Dickin, Davis, Josh Harris and Ulett all had points for Birmingham in the win.

The Bulls will now play Quad City at home on Thursday, Nov. 15, before a home-and-home ensues with the Huntsville Havoc Friday, Nov. 16, and Saturday, Nov. 17.