MACON, Ga. – The finish line is nearing when it comes to the SPHL regular season. Within a week or so, the field will be set for the President’s Cup Playoffs.
With the intensity heating up, we begin to take a look at each team’s hopes for the road ahead.
Record: 11-20-7, 29 points
Postseason outlook: Five points shy of fourth place in the SPHL standings. In short, the Bulls need to rattle off wins and have a bit of help from teams in front of them to get into the postseason. Birmingham and Pensacola are the only teams in the SPHL to not have yet clinched one of the league’s four playoff spots.
What’s ahead: The Bulls have four games to go, all of which are at home with one contest against each of the other four teams in the SPHL. Birmingham’s season finale is May 1 against Pensacola, a game that could possibly determine a postseason spot depending on how close the Bulls are to the Ice Flyers at the time.
What’s going right? Anytime a team has a player such as Logan Nelson in the lineup, chances to win games are good. With 46 points, he leads the SPHL overall in scoring. Getting some support beyond Nelson will be crucial to a playoff push as the next highest-rated scorer for the Bulls is Jacob Smith all the way back in 18th.
What needs work? Birmingham could certainly use some consistency on the defensive end. The Bulls have given up a league-high 146 goals. Continuity in goal has not been an ally of Birmingham this year with five goalies appearing in at least four contests. Perhaps most infamously, Austyn Roudebush appeared in a single game earlier this year prior to going on to making a case for league MVP in Knoxville where he has a 1,51 GAA. Both Hayden Stewart and Austin Lotz have appeared in double-digit games for the Bulls. Stewart is 6-8-3 with a 3:30 GAA compared to Austin Lotz’s 2-5-2 record in 11 starts with a 4:43 GAA.
Avoiding time in the penalty box is another area of zero in on. The Bulls lead the league in with an average of 15.68 penalty minutes per game and 170 minor penalties, also a league-high.