The Birmingham Bulls were in action this past week with two games getting their first win in one of the two. The first game of the week came on Wednesday night as they had their first road test on the season facing the Pensacola Ice Flyers (3-1-0). Bulls still trying to find the right guys to play and finalize a winning roster dropped the game 6-1. The bad loss left a bad taste in the players mouth as they stepped up and won the next game that following Saturday 3-2 in OT with their first showdown with the Macon Mayhem (1-1-1).
It was opening night for the Pensacola Ice Flyers at the Pensacola Bay Center or “The Hanger” as their fans and team likes to call it. There was an extra amount of energy from the home crowd as they unveiled two new video boards and a brand new electric scoreboard that was a signature staple of “The Hanger” for more than 35 years. The Ice Flyers jumped out to an early lead in the 1st period and never really looked back. Scoring on an early Power Play goal from Matt Ustaski, and then turning right back around and scoring was Patrick Megannety to put the Ice Flyers up 2-0. That lead would stay till the final buzzer sounded. The Bulls did not really show much in the first period being outshot 14-3.
Second period action saw the Bulls come out with some speed and attacking towards the stellar goaltending of Jake Kupsky, who through the 3 games he has played has given up just 5 goals. Some early scoring chances for the bulls could not find the back of the net while Pensacola began scoring their first of three shorthanded goals. Hagaman who is the SPHL leader in goals got his third of the season putting Pensacola up 3-0. Mike Davis got his first goal of the season bringing a little bit of spark to Bulls but that was all they would get past Kupsky. Bulls out shot Ice Flyers 16-11 in the second period but once again went 0-1 on the Power Play.
The third period began and it was all Pensacola to finally put the game away. Bulls who once again fail to convert on a Power Play opportunity 9 minutes into the 3rd to possibly cut the lead down to one let Matsushima score a Short Handed goal. That goal was followed by a Lagrone goal and then the third and final Short Handed goal was scored by Magnnety his second of the evening. The shots totaled 8-6 Pensacola in the final period. Austin Lotz got the L for the bulls in this one stopping only 27/33 shots on the night, he made some spectacular saves during the game including the stop of a penalty shot in the Second period. Jake Kupsky who early on is making a statement for MVP of the league was 24/25 on the night getting the W. The stat of the night has got to be the Bulls giving up 3 short handed goals and have yet to convert on a PP the entire season. Fair warning if you do attend a game at “The Hanger” be prepared to watch adults dance like idiots to Chelsea Dagger after every goal, trust me after the 6th one you are ready to vomit.
Bulls finally got in the Win column and a much needed 2 points in the standings with a 3-2 OT win in Macon, Ga. Bulls who were looking to secure the first victory and 2 points of the season decided that it was time to try something new in net. I present to you Bulls fans Hayden Lavigne who made his professional hockey debut this past Saturday as they faced the Macon Mayhem (1-1-1). The 24 year old rookie fresh out of playing for the University of Michigan stopped an impressive 40 out of 42 shots (one of which should have been waved off for high sticking).
The first and second period saw nothing but a couple penelties and a lot of shots on net by Macon. Lavigne standing on his head and stopping all 28 shots in the first two periods. Bulls during these two periods started off a little sluggish and shot just a small 11 times. Once again failing on their 2 power play opportunites still chasing that first PP goal on the season.
The third period saw ALL the action, with Taylor Pryce getting the Bulls out to a 1-0 lead his second goal of the season. Macon evens up the game with a goal by Logan Coomes on a Mayhem Power Play with only 0:22 left in the PP. John Gustafsson got his first goal of his Bulls career putting them back in front 2-1 with 4:29 left to play. Kasey Kulczycki has a goal called back for High Sticking yet when Gabe Guertler for Macon decides to sneak one past Lavigne with just 3:26 left the refs who like normal are not in correct position let the goal stand. Tanner Froese got the victory for the Bulls in the OT scoring his second goal of the season.
Final stats from the game ended up with shots 42-21 in Macon’s favor. While Macon went 1/2 on Power Plays the Bulls yet again go a bad 0/3. Hayden Lavigne gets the W stopping once again 40/42, and Jake Theut gets the OTL stopping 18/21 shots.