BIRMINGHAM, Al. – For the first time this season, the Birmingham Bulls lost in overtime. A 5-4 loss to the Ice Bears on Saturday night prevented the Bulls from going 2-0 on the road for the weekend. It’s never a good thing to lose a game, but in hockey losing in overtime still gains you a point.
How the game got to overtime is what has fans bewildered.
The Bulls gave up a pair of goals with the extra attacker for Knoxville with less than two minutes in the game. Birmingham had multiple opportunities to put the game away, but could not score on the empty net vacated by Ice Bears goalie, Hayden Stewart.
That’s the not so positive part of Saturday nights game. The positives can be derived from the way Birmingham fought back from a 2-0 deficit. With a shortened bench made shorter, when Craig Simchuk had to leave the game due to an injury, the Bulls continued to fight as they have all season. Austin Daae, Mike Davis and Nick Owen all provided goals for Birmingham. Daae had a pair of goals, and Birmingham rallied from down 0-2 to up 4-2.
In an email with coach Jamey Hicks, I asked him about the game on Saturday and the tough loss. He responded, “It was a tough loss, but as a whole, it was a really good weekend. We competed hard on the road with a shortened line up.”
It was a good weekend for Birmingham in the fact that the did pick up three of a possible four points on the weekend.
Starting the weekend in the Smoky Mountains on Friday night, Birmingham won a see-saw game over Knoxville by a score of 4-3. The Bulls would never trail in the game, but every time they would score, the Ice Bears found an answer.
In typical sports jargon of play till the end, that’s what the Ice Bears did. Twice Knoxville tied the game with less than ten seconds remaining in the period. Shane Topf put Birmingham ahead 3-2 early in the third period, but the Ice Bears responded again 1:16 later on a goal from Danny Cesarz. When it appeared the game was heading to overtime, Birmingham got the game-winning goal. Simchuk scored during a scrum in front of Stewart with 1:16 remaining.
Birmingham saw good performances from two new players, Alex Johnson and Sam Williams from the Federal Hockey League. I asked coach Hicks about what goes into signing guys from a lower league such as the Federal League. “Do a lot of homework and make sure they fit into the needs of the team and what it’s looking for,” Hicks replied. Williams assisted on a pair of the goals on Saturday and Johnson was solid on defense.
This coming weekend, the Bulls are back on the road as they’ll travel to Macon to face the Mayhem. For the first time this season, the Mayhem are on a losing streak and find themselves outside of the top two in the SPHL standings. For both teams, this weekends games will mark the halfway point of the season.
The Sin Bin Bulls Three Stars of the Weekend
1st star – Austin Daae, who had a pair of goals on Saturday night in the Bulls 5-4 overtime loss. Daae finished the weekend with three points and a +2 rating.
2nd star – Josh Harris, the Bulls lone veteran continues to show that age is nothing but a number. Appearing in his 250 and 251st regular season games in the SPHL, Harris had a short-handed goal and two assists on the weekend.
3rd star – Taylor Dickin, who had three assists for Birmingham this weekend while in Knoxville.
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