BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — With a come-from-behind win in Pensacola on Saturday night. The Birmingham Bulls finished the first weekend of the 2018-19 season with a perfect 2-0-0 record. The two wins came at the expense of the Huntsville Havoc and Pensacola Ice Flyers. Both teams qualified for the playoffs in 2017-18, with the Havoc taking home the Presidents Cup.
Both wins are impressive in their own right. On Friday night against Huntsville, the Bulls built a 3-1 lead in the first period. Huntsville would scratch and claw their way back into the game and trail by only a goal with 2:43 remaining. Birmingham would stand firm against a desperate Havoc attempt to tie the game and escape with a 5-4 opening night victory in front of a packed, raucous crowd at the Pelham Civic Center.
Bulls goaltender Mavric Parks was outstanding most of the evening. Parks would end the night with 32 saves including two point-blank stops in the final ten second of the game. When asked about the performance of Parks, Coach Jamey Hicks said, “Parksie is Parksie. He’s an elite goaltender at this level.”
The problems that ailed Birmingham last season came back in the second period. Birmingham was whistled for penalties four times. The Havoc only cashed in on one of the power plays. On the other side of special teams, the Bulls struggled again on the power play, unable to take advantage of three opportunities with a man advantage
Saturday evening the Bulls did something they’ve never done before in the regular season: skate off the ice at the Pensacola Bay Center with a win. The Bulls were winless in five games at the Bay Center last season, including three one-goal defeats. In Saturday night’s 3-2 win, the Bulls special teams converted two of four power play attempts, a major improvement from Friday night.
Needless to say, 10 out of 10 Bulls fans will take the start to this season over last year. Starting off 2-0-0 is a great way to start the season, but being unbeaten in October is no guarantee that you’ll be hoisting the Presidents Cup in April.
This week Birmingham will host the Evansville Thunderbolts. Currently, Evansville is the only team in the SPHL without a point. The Thunderbolts lost to Knoxville on the road on Friday night, before falling at home to Huntsville on Saturday. Needless to say, Coach Ian Moran will have the men from Indiana fired up, as they’ll be looking for their first win of the season.
SinBinBulls Three Stars of Opening Weekend
★★★ – Defenseman Caleb Apperson. Apperson scored the first goal of the season for Birmingham, and had the game winning goal on Saturday night.
★★ – Forward Shane Topf. Topf was a +3 for the weekend with a goal scored.
★ – Goaltender Charlie Millen. Millen was impressive in Pensacola, 36 saves on 38 shots to give Birmingham their first win in Pensacola.