BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Occasionally in sports, a team just has another teams number. Sometimes it’s for years, sometimes it’s for a season, other times it’s a part of the season. Coming off another weekend sweep of the Birmingham Bulls, it appears the Pensacola Ice Flyers are in the latter position.
Birmingham and Pensacola have been on opposite sides of the standings for the majority of the season. While Birmingham was setting records for wins to start the season. Pensacola was approaching records for futility. From October 19 to December 2, the Bulls were 4-0 against the Ice Flyers including a 6-2 beatdown on December 14.
Since that game, it’s been a role reversal. After sweeping Birmingham on Friday and Saturday night, Pensacola is 4-0 against the Bulls in their last four games to even the season series. What makes that so infuriating for Birmingham fans, is that the Ice Flyers only have nine total wins on the season now.
When asking Coach Jamey Hicks about the reversal of fortune between the two teams, he stated “It’s two different teams, we’re missing a bunch of guys, they’re missing a bunch of guys. It’s two different teams as the season goes through.”
Birmingham has been hit sparingly with the call-up bug and the roster is very much similar as opening night. Pensacola, on the other hand, has a revolving door of a roster. Currently, there are only seven players on the Ice Flyers roster who played in the first game of the season. Whether it be via trade, call up, release, or free agent signing, You definitely need a current roster when covering Pensacola on a nightly basis.
One of the more surprising signings for the Ice Flyers came on Wednesday afternoon when Jason Price was signed to a contract in Pensacola. What makes this surprising or even significant is Price has spent the last 21 months on indefinite suspension from the SPHL. For details of the reasoning behind the suspension you can click here: https://thesinbin.net/jason-prices-controversial-return-to-the-sphl/.
After two games with the Ice Flyers, personally, I think this is going to be an excellent move for Pensacola and Price. Price gets to try and repair his reputation and the Ice Flyers get a veteran defenseman whose presence is known every time he leaves the bench.
Back to Birmingham, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the Bulls are struggling since the start of 2019. Birmingham is an even 2-2-2 in the month of January. This is coming off a December that saw the Bulls go 6-5-0. Call-ups or not, Birmingham has found themselves on a roller coaster the last six weeks, with the goaltending and defense not being as solid when the season started.
In October and November, the Bulls were allowing a minuscule 2.15 goals per game while scoring 3.77. Since December those numbers have changed drastically. Birmingham has allowed 3.24 goals per game, and scoring has dropped to 3.53 goals per game. As always though, there is good news to be found.
Austin Daae continues to play like the player everyone was expecting when the season started. The recently acquired four-some of Russell Jordan, Sam Williams, Alex Johnson, and Christian Whitcomb are filling into their roles. It’s just gonna take a little bit of time to get off the roller coaster and find the groove that carried them to 11 straight wins to start the season, but the good news is, Birmingham is still ranked in the top three in the standings.
Bulls Three Stars of the Weekend
★★★ – Shane Topf, who had a goal and an assist on Friday night. The defenseman from Eagle River, Alaska was also a +2 for the weekend.
★★ – Austin Daae, who has been on fire in 2019. Back-to-back four-point weekends have shown the talent that was on display last season in the FHL.
★ – Mike Davis. With the Bulls trailing 1-0 late in the third period, Davis poked one past Brian Billett, ending the shutout attempt and tying the game 1-1.