By James Hayes | Field Pass Hockey
After blanking the Storm on Friday night, the Bulls looked to complete the weekend sweep Saturday in front of a sellout crowd and did just that. The high-powered Birmingham offense, backed with stellar goaltending from Hayden Stewart, lifted the Bulls to a 5-2 victory over Quad City.
The Bulls wasted absolutely no time to get this one going. Just 38 seconds into the game, Jonathan Pace lit the lamp for his first goal of the season. The Bulls continue to apply heavy pressure on the Storm. They went on to outshoot Quad City 20-8 in the first period.
However, the Storm pushed back late in the first, and former Bull Aaron Ryback solved the mystery of how to get one behind Stewart finally. Ryback’s goal put some life back into a deflated Storm team, and a few short minutes later, the Storm took their first lead of the weekend. With just over a minute remaining, Mike Mercurio beat Stewart for his second goal of the year, and the Storm took a 2-1 lead into the locker room after one.
Once again, the Bulls came out of the locker room like a wrecking ball. 27 seconds in, Jordan Martin, with the help of MacKenzie Dwyer, tied the game up at two. Quad City wasn’t about to roll over and take it, in any case. The Storm fired back, trying to regain the lead, but Stewart and the Bulls’ defense kept saying no thank you.
The Bulls struck again with under five minutes to go in a tightly contested second period. This time it was Matt Wiesner from Troy MacTavish. Wiesner’s goal put the Bulls up by one, and the sellout crowd erupted with excitement. Despite being outshot 13-12 in the second, the Bulls went into the second intermission up 3-2.
The final frame didn’t feature a goal in the first minute like the previous two, but it was another dominating performance by the Bulls. Zac Masson was able to give the Bulls a two-goal cushion near the midway point of the third, and the Bulls continued to apply heavy pressure on the Storm.
With just over two and a half minutes remaining in the final period, the Storm pulled Ryan Edquist from the goal to add an extra attacker as they looked to get back into this game. Unfortunately for Quad City, it didn’t work out, and Wiesner sealed the deal for the Bulls with an empty net goal just 21 seconds later. When the final horn sounded, the Bulls celebrated their third win in a row.
With the weekend sweep of the Storm, the Bulls have jumped into third place in the standings, only one point behind the Huntsville Havoc and five points behind the league-leading Peoria Rivermen. Next up for the Bulls is a trip to Knoxville on Feb. 3rd in what is sure to be a heated battle between two teams that have developed a genuine hate for one another this season. The Knoxville trip will be followed by a stop in Huntsville in a game that could be a battle for second in the SPHL standings.