BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – As the Birmingham Bulls make the turn and head down the stretch to the end of the regular season, they’ll have one more difficult stretch of games. Starting with Thursday night in Macon, Georgia, the Bulls will play three games in three nights in three cities against three different teams. Birmingham will travel a little over 700 miles in 36 hours to face three teams that are at totally different stages in the season. Speaking with Head Coach Jamey Hicks this past Saturday about the upcoming trip, “We’re excited for the challenge.”
Thursday night’s opponent is the Macon Mayhem. This is the rubber game of the season between the two teams, with both squads winning two games of the previous four. Birmingham won the last matchup 3-0 in Macon. In that game, Mavric Parks recorded his second shutout of the season over the Mayhem and Austin Daae scored a natural hat trick. Since that night, the two teams have gone in opposite directions in the standings. Birmingham has gone 10-4-1 and clinched a playoff berth. The Mayhem, well have seen better days. Macon is 4-8-2 and have fallen from third in the SPHL standings to a tie for fourth place.
Friday night is another date with the in-state rival, the Huntsville Havoc. This will be one of three times Birmingham and Huntsville will play at the Von Braun Center over eight days. Last time out, the Bulls snapped a two-game losing streak to the Havoc winning 4-1 in Birmingham. Sebastian Andersson picked up the win in his first start against Huntsville. The win for the goaltender from Sundbyberg, Sweden was his second since joining the Bulls. A win for Birmingham will clinch the season series over the Havoc, and will further show the differences from the first season till now in which Birmingham only managed one win in nine games.
Finally, on Saturday the Evansville Thunderbolts make their last trip to Birmingham this season. Of the three games this weekend, the records would say this is the easiest game. The Thunderbolts have all but sewn up last place this season as they are 9-30-4 and 16 points out of the final playoff spot. The Bulls are 4-0-0 against Evansville this season, winning by an average margin of three goals. Strange fact about these two teams. In 2017-18 it took Birmingham six games to win their first over the Thunderbolts. The Bulls have since won the last seven games in a row.
If Birmingham is to chase down the Peoria Rivermen for the Coffey Cup, this weekend will be crucial. Currently, the Rivermen hold an 11-point advantage over the Bulls. With two head-to-head games remaining between the two teams, Birmingham cannot afford to relinquish any more points.
Cole Golka will be making his professional debut this weekend for the Birmingham Bulls. Golka signed an amateur tryout with Birmingham on February 25th. Golka comes to the Bulls from the College of St. Scholastica Saints. While playing for the Saints, Golka appeared in 103 games, scoring 28 goals and assisting on 42 others. A native of Ardrossan, Alberta, Golka is the first of a possible five amateur tryouts Birmingham can offer to players who have exhausted their collegiate eligibility.
Follow Ronald Hagood, Jr. on Twitter at @SinBinBulls.