BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham Bulls took to the road to open the semifinal round of the Presidents Cup, hoping for a better result than their first-round road game. This round’s opponent is a little more dangerous than the previous. The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs were one of only three teams to defeat the Bulls in at least three games this season.
Birmingham got on the board first when Shane Topf picked up his second goal of the playoffs with the assists coming from Craig Simchuk and Jacob Barber 3:35 into the game.
Roanoke answered back at 12:06 of the period on a goal from Adrian Carbonara. Colton Wolter and Mac Jansen had the assist.
After a delay of game call on the Rail Yard Dawgs Alex Adams, Bulls defenseman Garrett Schmitz buried a slap shot past Jacob Caffrey to put Birmingham back on top. The Bulls held on to that lead 2-1 through the rest of the period, outshooting Roanoke 10-5.
In the middle frame, the two sides traded goals. Mike Davis lit the lamp for the Bulls, while Colin Murray scored for the Rail Yard Dawgs.
Roanoke would get the last laugh in the period, however, when Mac Jansen got one past Mavric Parks with only 3.8 seconds left in the period, giving Roanoke momentum going into the second intermission. The Rail Yard Dawgs outshot Birmingham in the second period 10-6.
The Bulls took the lead early in the third period on what many in the Roanoke Valley will call a questionable goal. A shot from Craig Simchuk ricocheted off the skate of Mike Crocock and into the net, giving Birmingham a 4-3 lead. Roanoke’s head coach Dan Bremner questioned the goal, but to no avail. The shot off Crocock’s skate was only one of three shots on goal the Bulls would have in the third period.
Roanoke unloaded shot after shot on Parks trying to even the game up and possibly force overtime, but the SPHL Goaltender of the Year stood on his proverbial head and kept the puck out of the net.
The Bulls got multi-point efforts from Simchuk and Barber, who each racked up a pair of assists. For the Rail Yard Dawgs, Mac Jansen stayed hot against the Bulls, picking up three points (1G, 2A) on the night.
This semifinal series now shifts to Birmingham for games two and three (if necessary). Faceoff for game two is tonight at 7:30 at the Pelham Civic Center.