Pelham, Ala. – The Birmingham Bulls remained the only unblemished team in the SPHL on Friday with a 3-1 victory over the Evansville Thunderbolts. The win is the second of the season over Evansville and fifth in a row dating back to the 2017-18 season. The game was not pretty at times for Birmingham. Despite begin undefeated on the season, the Bulls were outshot for the fourth straight game.
Fortunately for Birmingham, Mavric Parks was on his game again. Parks stopped 41 of 42 shots to pick up his 3rd win of the season. The Bulls continue to struggle on the power play. Birmingham was 0-6 on the evening with the man advantage, but they did have 8 shots on Evansville goalie, Braeden Ostepchuk.
Also for Birmingham, they continue to take a large amount of minor penalties. The Thunderbolts had 8 chances with a man advantage on Friday night. Birmingham killed off all 8 penalty kills, including a controversial 5-minute major called on Bulls Captain, Craig Simchuk.
Simchuk was whistled for an “Illegal Check to the Head”. That penalty is a 5-minute major and carries a game misconduct with it. Simchuk is awaiting word from the SPHL offices on if he’ll have to sit out any additional games. Talking with Coach Jamey Hicks afterwards, “obviously we got into penalty trouble with Simchuk’s (penalty) we weren’t pleased with the call, but you know, thats hockey.”
Birmingham is currently in a 4-way tie for the most penalty minutes in the league and Coach Hicks addressed that as well, but still had a positive spin on it, “We’re getting into the habit of taking too many penalties, it’s not one guy. It seems like every guy gets one penalty, you know it adds up in a hurry. there’s a lot of things we’ve got to sure up, we’re anxious to get back to work and try to do that. Obviously when you’re winning while working on things, definitely helps.
The Bulls leading score from last season, Josh Harris, finally scored his first goal of the season. When asked about the goal, Harris said, “the monkey’s off the back now”. Harris would finish the game as the number one star with the goal and an assist.
Birmingham now prepares to travel for one of two trips to Moline, Illinois next weekend. Awaiting them will be a pair of games against the struggling expansion squad, the Quad City Storm. When asked about the upcoming trip to Moline, Hicks said, “We’ll we’re excited to get up there. It’s a new barn, new venue. I actually played in the barn when it first opened, way back in the day. It’s a great setup, it’ll be good for our guys to get away, spend some time on the bus. Hopefully bond a little bit. We’re not too worried, we have great leadership in our room, and the guys are getting along right now. Finding ways to win, we seem to find a different way to win so far each game. We’ll just kinda keep moving forward and try to progress.”
When asked if he’d say anything to the guys about not looking ahead, with Quad City struggling the way they have so far this season, “I think we’ll focus in on our own. We’ve been through being a first year club. Dave is gonna do a good job, he’s fresh from playing. He wasn’t just a regular player, he was the best defenseman in the league. He’ll get things figured out there, I’m sure they’ll be jumping and ready for us when we get there.”
Birmingham will return home on November 15th for the first of three games in three nights. They will host the Quad City Storm on the 15th, before making their first trip up I-65 to instate rival Huntsville on the 16th. They’ll cap off the weekend with a home game against the Havoc on the 17th.
Three Stars of the Night:
Mavric Parks – Parks who is playing at the top of his game right now, stopped 41 of 42 shots to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Josh Harris – Harris was a man on a mission on Friday night. Not only did he score his first goal of the season. He was one of the key players that helped kill of the 5-minute penalty kill in the 2nd period.
Loren Ulett – Ulett scored the first goal of the evening. That’s not why he’s listed. Ulett has been playing like a Bull in a china shop, no pun intended. Ulett has laid devastating hits every game this season.
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