By Brett Batchelor
The Birmingham Bulls are off to their best start since the 2019-2020 season, and things are continuing to trend in the right direction. The offseason for the Bulls saw a lot of movement in free agency, and Head Coach Craig Simchuk believes they have found the right guys. “We have a lot of good players and feel that we have the right mix of guys”, noted Simchuk. “We have a balance of skill and strong work ethic that we think is the recipe for success.” While each new Bull has made an impact on the ice, there are a few particular guys that have really made their presence known. “Michael Gillespie has been a huge addition up front. He’s provided a lot of speed and skill for our attack. On the back end, the additions of Nick Minerva and Taylor Brierley have been great. They are really good defensemen but are great players on both ends of the rink.”
After being named to the SPHL All-Rookie team last season, Carson Rose has picked up right where he left off last season. Rose leads all Birmingham players with eight total points in the first five games of the season, and has scored a goal in three of those games. With other teams having to keep an eye out for Carson Rose and all of the newcomers, that has quietly allowed captain Mike Davis to have a nice start to the season, who has also scored three goals in five games.
“The new guys have been a great addition to the team. They have really bought into our system and that has reflected our performance on the ice so far this season”, said Davis. The captain believes that when the Bulls are clicking on all cylinders, they are a tough team to beat. “We just have to keep playing our systems. When we do that, we are a pretty difficult team to play against.”
Craig Simchuk said all offseason that he wanted a team first, championship mentality on the ice. After starting 3-2 on the season, Simchuk has seen a lot of play on the ice that has really impressed him and makes him excited for the rest of the season. In the first five games of the 2022-2023 SPHL season, Birmingham is the leading team in “shots on goal, per game”. The Bulls are averaging 47.60 SPG, leading the league by nearly a dozen in that category. On the defensive side, Birmingham is one of the strongest defense teams in the league. The Bulls are second in the SPHL in “shots against, per game”, only allowing 26.40 shots per game against them. “Our shots on goal have been a hot topic this year, and we have not allowed many shots against. It’s been good to see, and we hope to continue that trend”, noted Simchuk.
Although the Bulls are off to the organization’s best start in three years, there are always things that you can improve on the ice. “Finishing plays is something that we need to get better at doing”, said Simchuk. Despite leading the league in shots on goal, Birmingham is only 6th in actual goals per game with 3.20. “We have a lot of chances, and we need to capitalize on our opportunities.” Simchuk is excited about the start to the season for his team, but knows that you can always improve on the little things. “We can improve on the small details of our game, like stopping the puck and playing with good stick details. We need to stay connected on the ice and play as a five man unit at all times.”
Birmingham currently sits with 6 points and a 3-2 record, putting them in 6th place in the league through the first three weeks of play. The Bulls will be back on home ice at the Pelham Civic Complex on November 10th against the Fayetteville Marksmen, and on November 11th against the Knoxville Ice Bears; puck drop for both games is slated for 7:00 P.M. Call the front office at 205-620-6870 to order your season tickets or visit the website at bullshockey.net to order your tickets and to stay up to date on all Birmingham Bulls news, articles, video, and more.