BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Excuse me for just a minute, as I attempt to channel my inner Bruce Buffer.
Ladies and gentlemen…this is the main event of the playoffs!
In this corner, from Birmingham, Alabama with a record of 39-15-2, a playoff record of 4-2 and seven combined wins by shutout, the Birmingham Bulls.
Their opponent is the reigning Presidents Cup Champion. Boasting a record of 36-17-3, two wins by shutout and playoff record of 4-1, the Huntsville Havoc.
Now that I’ve done that, take it away, Bruce…
How They Made the Final:
Challenge Round: Knocked Out Pensacola 2-1
Semifinal Round: Tapped Out Knoxville 2-0
Challenge Round: Pinned Fayetteville 2-1
Semifinal Round: Submitted Roanoke 2-1
Season Series Recap:
The Huntsville Havoc are the only team in the league to have a winning regular-season record against the Birmingham Bulls. They accomplished this feat despite starting the season series down three games to none against Birmingham.
The home team had the decided advantage in the regular season, winning six of the nine games played. One of the more surprising stats between the two teams is that in the nine games played, none have gone into overtime.
Kasey Kulczycki has been the leading goal scorer for Birmingham this season against Huntsville. Kulczycki has six goals and three assists in nine games. Former Havoc player, Shane Topf is also averaging a point per game against Huntsville.
On the Havoc side, Christian Powers has been the Havoc’s leading goal scorer against Birmingham this season. Powers has scored five times and assisted on five others. Sy Nutkevitch is the leading points producer against the Bulls. He only has one goal but has picked up 13 assists in nine games against the team from the Magic City.
The projected starting goaltenders for Birmingham and Huntsville both have had their highs and lows against their respective foes this season.
Mavric Parks is expected to start the series for Birmingham. In five games against the Havoc, he is 2-3 with a 4.75 GAA and a save percentage of .889. Parks best outing against Huntsville came on November 17th, when he allowed just two goals on 33 shots, picking up the victory. His worst came in a 6-4 loss on January 21.
Max Milosek has progressively gotten better in each game against Birmingham this season. Milosek’s first professional start came against Birmingham on November 17, and it’s not one he wanted to call home and brag about. As mentioned earlier, six goals allowed, four of them were power play goals for Birmingham. But since that game, Milosek has gone 5-1 against the Bulls. In his last outing against Birmingham, he allowed one goal on 26 shots enroute to the win.
President’s Cup Final Keys to Success:
For the reigning champions, it’s as easy as repeat what you did against Birmingham the second half of the season. After the November 17th loss in Birmingham, the Havoc went 5-1 against the Bulls, outscoring Birmingham 23-12 in those six games.
Birmingham needs to do what has made them the most successful this season. Execute on the power play. In the four wins, the Bulls had over Huntsville the power play was successful 29.41% of the time. In the five losses, a paltry 8.33%.
This is a coin-flip series, with both teams getting much-needed rest before the series starts, I’m expecting a low scoring series. Both Parks and Milosek have been arguably the two best netminders in the SPHL this season, so it’s no surprise that one of them will end the season skating around with their first President’s Cup.