Birmingham Bulls clinch playoff spot after weekend victories

Published 11:34 am Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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By MACKENZEE SIMMS | Staff Reporter

PELHAM – Remaining on top of the league, the Birmingham Bulls clinched their playoff spot with back-to-back victories against the Macon Mayhem the weekend of Feb. 23-24. 

In the first game of the weekend on Friday, Feb. 23, the Macon Mayhem opened up scoring with a goal from Bailey Morrissette at 4:29 in the first period. Not one to leave a goal unanswered, Nikita Kozyrev of the Birmingham Bulls tied the game up at the 14:33 mark. 

Neither team was able to break the stalemate in the first period, with the Macon Mayhem earning a minor penalty for too many men on the ice with just a single second remaining in the first period. 

Starting the second period on the power play, the Birmingham Bulls were unable to capitalize on the opportunity with a goal, but did commit a penalty of their own for too many men on the ice at the 5:23 mark. With the number of too many men on the ice penalties matching the overall score of the game, the tie continued until Birmingham’s CJ Walker scored at 12:09. 

The Bulls would not maintain the lead for long. Just 29 seconds into the third period, Bulls’ defensemen Joe Colatarci committed an interference penalty, sending the Macon Mayhem on the power play. The shorthanded Bulls fought valiantly, but just as the penalty kill was in reach, Macon’s Billy Jerry scored a power play goal at the 2:11 mark. 

Unhappy with the score once again tied, Birmingham responded to the Mayhem’s power play goal a little over two minutes later as Carson Rose scored his first goal of the game. 

But once again, the Bulls could not keep the lead for long. An elbowing penalty from Birmingham’s Troy McTavish 7:50 into the period sent the Mayhem on the power play resulting in a goal from Macon’s Derek Mecrones at the 8:24 mark of the third period. 

Despite the Bulls having a power play in overtime, neither time managed to score in the extra minutes, sending the game to a shootout.

Birmingham’s Kozyrev scored on the Bulls’ first attempt which was matched by Mayhem’s Mecrones on Macon’s second. The two teams went back and forth, neither managing to put a shot past the goaltenders, until Birmingham’s Rose scored the game winning goal to end the shootout. 

After a neck-and-neck game between the two times the night before, the Birmingham Bulls and the Macon Mayhem faced off the next night on Saturday, Feb. 24. 

The Bulls kicked off the game with an almost immediate goal from Matt Wiesner at the 0:27 mark. Twenty five seconds later, Birmingham scored again, courtesy of Scott Donahue, giving the Bulls a two goal lead just one minute into the game. 

After Rose scored a third goal for Birmingham at the 12:02 mark, Macon pulled goaltender Brody Claeys and replaced him with Jimmy Poreda who finished the first period.

Despite switching goaltenders, Macon’s chance to gain momentum was squashed in the second period as Rose scored again, his second goal of the game and Bulls’ fourth. 

Frustrated by this turn of events, the Mayhem committed a slew of penalties in the second with Sacha Roy leading the charge. Roy earned his first penalty at the 8:54 mark for roughing. After serving his two minute minor, Roy left the box only to almost immediately commit an interference penalty at the 11:19 mark. 

Not wanting Roy to have all the fun, Macon’s Jerry earned his own penalty for cross-checking at the 15:10 mark. But, unfortunately for Jerry, the power play from his penalty resulted in Birmingham’s Colatarci scoring the fifth and final goal of the game. 

During an uneventful third period, the Bulls continued their domination, taking no goals against to end the game with a shutout victory. 

With these two victories, the Birmingham Bulls clinched their playoff spot, guaranteeing a postseason appearance this year. The Birmingham Bulls will continue their road trip with back-to-back games against the Peoria Rivermen on March 1-2 in Peoria, IL.