Bulls wrap up homestand with wins over Quad City, Knoxville

Published 4:46 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

PELHAM – The Birmingham Bulls wrapped up their five-game homestand at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena with a pair of victories over Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend.

The Bulls defeated the Quad City Storm 5-1 on Friday, Jan. 12 and the Knoxville Ice Bears in a 3-2 overtime thriller on Monday, Jan. 15 to go 2-1 on the weekend.

In the first game of the weekend, Birmingham jumped out of the gate with a four-goal first period that gave it a commanding lead in the contest.

Nikita Kozyrev opened up the scoring just 2:16 into the game, and after the Bulls killed off a Carson Rose holding penalty, Joe Colatarci scored his first goal of the season at the 7:08 mark.

A couple of minutes later, the Storm committed a holding penalty that put Birmingham on the power play, and Dylan Johnson took full advantage with a goal 1:09 into the man-advantage and 8:55 remaining in the period.

With just under two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first, Matt Wiesner scored an unassisted goal to give the Bulls a 4-0 lead going into the first intermission.

After the Bulls committed the lone penalty of the second period just 2:22 after intermission, Quad City’s TJ Delaney scored his first goal of the season to get the Storm on the board.

Drake Glover would restore Birmingham’s lead to four with 2:28 left in the period as his 19th goal of the year gave his team a 5-1 lead.

Despite a wild third period that saw 10 penalties called in the first 10:14, including a sequence just 36 seconds into the period where each team was charged with a pair of roughing penalties, the teams played a scoreless final period to wrap up the 5-1 win for the Bulls.

Colatarci earned the third star of the game for earning an assist in addition to his first goal of the season, Wiesner earned the second star for his goal and Kozyrev took home the first star after scoring the goal that opened the floodgates in the first period.

Hayden Stewart ended the night with 27 saves and just one goal allowed.

After falling in an early 2-0 hole in the first period of Saturday, Jan. 13’s battle with Quad City, the Bulls lost that contest 2-1 and looked for redemption on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day against the ninth-place Knoxville Ice Bears.

The Bulls came flying out of the gate and scored just 28 seconds into the game after Kozyrev and Glover found Josh Harris for his first goal of the season.

However, shortly after at the 2:22 mark, Knoxville’s Dawson McKinney tied up the game at 1-1. After each team killed off a penalty, they remained deadlocked at a goal apiece at the first intermission.

Birmingham got a pair of opportunities in the second period after the Ice Bears committed two penalties, but it couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing power plays and left the score at 1-1 going into the third period.

It wouldn’t remain tied for long after the second intermission as Troy MacTavish scored an unassisted goal 1:30 into the third period to give the Bulls a 2-1 lead.

Knoxville knotted up the score again at the 7:17 mark off a Seth Ensor goal. It held the Bulls scoreless for the rest of regulation despite surrendering another pair of penalties and allowing 50 shots in the first 60 minutes.

With the game balanced on a knife’s edge in overtime, Dylan Johnson took the puck from MacTavish and Ryan Romeo to slot home a goal at the 3:32 mark to give the home fans a game-winner to celebrate.

MacTavish took home the third star for his third-period goal and overtime assist, Johnson earned the second star for the game-winning goal and Harris got the first star for getting in the goal column with the Bulls.

Drennen Atherton stopped 19 shots in the win while surrendering just two goals, and Birmingham racked up 55 shots throughout the game.

The Bulls will start a four-game road trip with three straight contests at the Fayetteville Marksmen from Jan. 19-21. Their next home game is Saturday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. against the Evansville Thunderbolts.