BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham Bulls forced a deciding game three with a 3-2 win over the Fayetteville Marksmen. The star of last nights game, Jason Pawloski was under fire all night long as Birmingham fired off 48 shots on goal. On the other end of the night, Mavric Parks had a comparatively light night in net, as the Marksmen could only muster 19 shots on goal, and the bulk those came inside the final six-minutes of the game.
Birmingham started the scoring off when Josh Harris jammed a Cole Golka shot past the pads of Pawloski for the Bulls first playoff goal. Fayetteville tied the game up with only .8-seconds left in the first period. Sam Wilbur slipped a power play goal past Parks, and the teams skated to the locker room tied 1-1. The Marksmen got their only lead of the evening at 4:45 of the second period. Brian Bowen took a beautiful pass from Brandon McMartin and fired it just under the crossbar and over the outstretched glove of Parks. A goal from Taylor Dickin at 13:59 of the period, tied the game back up. Craig Simchuk and Caleb Apperson were credited with the assist. The second period would end as it started with both teams tied, this time at 2-2.
After a Travis Jeke holding penalty at 9:03 of the third, it was Golka, the Bulls rookie phenom that made the difference. Golka hammered a Geoff Crisfield rebound past Pawloski giving Birmingham the lead for good. Speaking with Golka after the game, I asked about the game-winning goal, and he gave credit to the line he was out with. “You know we had the power play, I just thought to go to the net. We have a lot of talent on that unit. I just went to the net, the puck popped out and I buried the rebound.”
Postgame, Coach Jamey Hicks was a man of few words. The longest answer I got from him was about game three coming up on Sunday night. I asked if there is anything you do differently for an elimination game, and his answer was short, sweet and to the point. “No, you play the game hard, you play the game the right way and the hockey gods will take care of you.”