BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – When the 2017-18 schedule was released, this weekend was circled by Birmingham fans. It was the day that a fan favorite returned to Birmingham, but not as a Bull, but as a member of the Macon Mayhem. Now that the season has started, that’s not why it’s a featured matchup in the SPHL this weekend.
Birmingham defeated the Evansville Thunderbolts on Wednesday night 5-3 to extend their league record streak to ten consecutive wins to start the season. The Macon Mayhem dropped an overtime game on Wednesday at the Pensacola Ice Flyers. That loss gave the Mayhem a single point tying them with the Bulls at the top of the standings at 20 points each.
Despite the 5-3 win on Wednesday night, Bulls coach Jamey Hicks was not pleased with how the team played. Birmingham jumped out to an early 2-0 lead over the Thunderbolts, outshooting Evansville 12-7 in the first period. The second and third periods were not as smooth for the Bulls. When asked about the end of the game, which saw Birmingham give up their first shorthanded goal of the season, Hicks stated:
“We stopped doing the things that got us to where we were. We were very fortunate to walk away with two points tonight.”
This weekend will feature a who’s who of the SPHL leaderboard when it comes to statistics. The league’s number one and two scorers, (Justin Larson of Birmingham, Jake Trask of Macon) will be on the ice. The league leaders in wins will face off in net as Mavric Parks and Jordan Ruby will guard the nets over the weekend. Parks is 7-0-0 on the season for the Bulls, Ruby is 6-1 as the Mayhem’s goalie.
One of the two former Bulls on the Macon roster, Brandon Fehd is tied for the league-lead in points as a defenseman, with 11 points (2G, 9A). Meanwhile, Birmingham newcomer, Geoff Crisfield trails him with eight points (1G, 7A).
The thing fans on Friday night will be looking forward to as much as anything is the return of Alexander Taulien. Taulien was hands down the Bulls fan favorite last season, posting 95 penalty minutes in 39 games. His return is sure to generate a chorus of cheers and probably a few jeers as well.
Birmingham Players to Watch
Caleb Apperson – Apperson started the season as the lone returning defenseman for Birmingham. After picking up points and being a +5 in the first four games of the season, Apperson has hit a dry spot. Apperson only has two points and is even in the Bulls last six games.
Evan Schultz – Schultz was the second leading scorer for Birmingham last season. This season the production is way down. Through eight games played, Schultz only has two goals and three assists. Production for him will need to pick up, for Birmingham to continue their incredible streak.
Loren Ulett – Ulett has picked up the role as the fan favorite in Birmingham this season. His hard-hitting, physical play is loved in Birmingham this season. The fact he also has three goals and six assists on the season isn’t hurting that love from the fans either.