By James Hayes | Field Pass Hockey
The Birmingham Bulls faced off against the Huntsville Havoc for the two teams’ annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day game. This year was unlike the past few years, though, as the two teams were battling for third place in the SPHL standings. A huge second period for the Havoc proved to be too much for the Bulls to overcome, as they fell 6-3.
The Bulls dominated the time of possession as well as shots on goal in the first period. They outshot the Havoc 17-1. However, that one shot was a goal that came off the stick of Alex Kielczewski. Birmingham didn’t back down, and four minutes later, Mike Gillespie answered back with his 18th goal of the season.
The team fought hard to take the lead in the closing minutes of the first period, but Nick Latinovich, who seems to always play well in Birmingham, turned everything he was seeing away. The two teams headed to the locker room tied 1-1.
In the second period, things got out of hand quickly for the Bulls. In a net-front battle, Kasey Kulczycki grab up his own rebound and sent the puck behind Hayden Stewart to give the Havoc a one-goal lead just over a minute and a half into the period. A few minutes later, the Bulls went on the power play and had some nice chances before Jake Pappalardowas called for hooking. Shortly thereafter, Robbie Fisher scored for the Havoc on the powerplay, making it a two-goal game.
Birmingham battled back and never was able to find an answer, and then things got worse. Dominick Procopio was able to find Nathan Hudgins and Hudgins buried the puck behind Stewart. Suddenly, the Bulls were in a three-goal hole, and things weren’t looking up.
When the third period came around, Gillespie had enough. He found the net once again, and the Bulls were showing some life. They put heavy pressure on the Havoc in their own zone, and the hard work paid off with a power play chance. Sam Hunter was sent to the box for cross-checking, and a buzzing Bulls team was looking to capitalize. However, that would not be the case. Sy Nutkevitch and Tyler Piacentini went down the ice shorthanded, and a crazy bounce got behind Stewart, giving the Havoc a three-goal lead.
The Bulls showed resilience and answered back 33 seconds later with a power play goal. Scott Donahue sent a slapshot from the right face-off circle. The puck hit the t top of Latinovich’s glove and flip into the net. Again, the Bulls had life. Shot after shot, the Bulls sent the puck at the Havoc net, but nothing else would get by Latinovich. Piacentini added an empty net goal late, and the Bulls fell to Huntsville for the third time this season.
Next up for the Bulls is a weekend trip to Roanoke to face off against the Rail Yard Dawgs in a Friday and Saturday night matchup. The Rail Yard Dawgs currently sit in the top spot in the standings and are looking to extend that two-point lead.