Birmingham Bulls set SPHL record, remain unbeaten
Published 1:56 pm Monday, November 19, 2018
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
In just the second year since the return of the Birmingham Bulls, the team is already setting records after jumping out to a 9-0 start to the 2018-19 SPHL season.
The Bulls, who spent much of last season near the bottom of the standings, aren’t just off to a 9-0 start but have set a record for most consecutive wins in a row to start an SPHL season.
While Birmingham still sits a point behind the Macon Mayhem (19) with an overall record of 9-1-1, the Bulls are the only unbeaten team in the league and have continued their dominant ways recently with another win against Quad City and two wins against rival Huntsville in their last three contests.
The Bulls beat Quad City for the third consecutive game on Thursday, Nov. 15, by a final of 4-2, before sweeping two games from the Huntsville Havoc by final scores of 5-4 and 6-2 in the two following days. Recaps from the three games are below.
Birmingham 4, Quad City 2
In a tie game heading to the third period, Birmingham’s Garrett Schmitz picked up a power-play goal with 13:14 remaining in the game to give the Bulls the lead, before goaltender Mavric Parks held Quad City scoreless the entire period to allow the Bulls to hand on for a 4-2 win after an empty-net goal by Mike Davis closed things out with 22 seconds left.
Quad City took the early lead on a power-play opportunity in the first period that saw Sean Kacerosky score in the first 2:31 of the game.
Josh Harris and Justin Larson, the reigning player of the week in the league, added goals for the Bulls within a minute of each other to start the first 5:23 of the second period, which quickly gave them a 2-1 advantage.
Seven minutes later, Taylor McCloy found the back of the net on a goal for Quad City that tied the score 2-2 heading to the final period.
Parks’ third period, as well as the defense, however, was too much for Quad City, who got just 21 shots off in the game, 19 of which were saved.
Birmingham 5, Huntsville 4
In a back-and-forth game that saw the Bulls take two different one-goal leads in the second and third periods only to be answered by Huntsville, Birmingham was able to get one last goal from Harris with 4:45 left to pick up a thrilling 5-4 rivalry win.
Birmingham actually had a strong advantage early thanks to goals from Shan Topf and Larson in the first 10:31 of the contest, which gave the Bulls a 2-0 lead.
Huntsville answered back with its first goal when Christian Powers was able to put a shot past goalie Ben Myers with just 38 seconds left in the opening period.
The Havoc made it two unanswered goals very quickly when Ryan Salkeld tied the game with a goal of his own 2:59 into the second period.
A little more than three minutes later, Evan Schults gave the Bulls the upper hand again with a goal to put them back in front 3-2.
A slashing penalty by Taylor Dickin, however, allowed Huntsville’s Kyle Sharkey to score a power-play goal with 6:31 left in the period to tie the game 3-3 heading to the final period.
The first seven minutes of the third period featured a torid pace with Birmingham taking the lead on a goal from Kasey Kulczycki 5:09 into the period, before Huntsville answered on a goal from Nolan Kaiser less than two minutes later.
With 4:45 left in the game, Harris added Birmingham’s fifth goal of the game, and this time, the defense stepped up to keep the Havoc from tying the game once again.
While Myers gave up four goals, he stepped up in the final few minutes and also faced a whopping 43 total shots, while Birmingham was only able to get off 25 shots.
Birmingham 6, Huntsville 2
After traveling to Huntsville the night before, the Birmingham Bulls returned home on Saturday to close out a series of three games in three days, and did so with an emphatic 6-2 win.
Parks had a stellar game in net saving 31-of-33 shots, while the power play was the ultimate deciding factor.
There was a total of 15 penalties between the two teams, nine of which came in the first period, but Birmingham was the only one to capitalize.
The Bulls were able to take advantage in the way of three power-play goals in the opening period to storm out to a 3-0 lead early.
Schmitz scored the first two for the Bulls both assisted by Harris and Jacob Barber. Those two goals came within the first seven minutes of the game, before Larson added a goal later in the period.
The second period was a more defensive battle with both goalkeepers playing a big part. But Loren Ulett wasn’t going to let it be a scoreless period, as he added a fourth goal for Birmingham with 3:17 left in the period.
Huntsville added its only two goals in the first 11:40 of the final period to cut the deficit to 4-2, but Birmingham closed things out with two unanswered goals from Dickin and Barber to win by the final of 6-2.
The Bulls will now host Evansville on Wednesday, Nov. 21, before taking on league-leading Macon in a two-game series between Friday, Nov. 23, and Saturday, Nov. 24, to close out Thanksgiving week.