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Bulls win in back-to-back weekend games before falling to Thunderbolts

By MACKENZEE SIMMS | Shelby County Reporter

The Birmingham Bulls won back-to-back weekend games against the Huntsville Havoc before falling to the Evansville Thunderbirds on Monday, Feb. 19.

In a packed weekend on home ice, the Bulls dominated the Huntsville Havoc in two straight games with a 4-1 win on Friday, Feb. 16 and a second victory of 5-4 on Saturday, Feb. 17. Unfortunately for Birmingham, the Evansville Thunderbolts broke this weekend’s winning streak as the Bulls suffered a 5-4 loss.

In the first game against Huntsville, Scott Donahue of the Bulls kicked off scoring with a power play goal at the 12:45 mark. The Havoc did not leave this goal unanswered and responded with a power play goal of their own at 17:30 into the period courtesy of Robbie Fisher. But after tying up the game, Hunstville committed two penalties in less than a minute, resulting in Carson Rose scoring a second power play goal for Birmingham just four seconds after the second penalty.

At the beginning of the second period, Huntsville’s Phil Elgstam delivered an illegal check to the head, resulting in a power play as Elgstam went to the penalty box followed by Mason Palmer and Bulls’ Mac Lewis, both serving time for roughing.

Although Birmingham was unable to capitalize on this opportunity, Rose scored the only point of the second period at the 12:40 mark. The Birmingham Bulls cemented their victory in the third period as Drake Glover scored with 8:40 remaining, , assisted by Nikita Koryzev and Rose, wrapping up the game with a 4-1 victory for the Bulls.

The following night, Saturday, Feb. 17, Huntsville and Birmingham faced off once again. But the hopes of Havoc redemption dwindled as the Bulls scored two power play goals, one from Koryzev at the 17:38 mark and the other from Glover with 1:08 remaining in the period.

As frustration mounted, the Bulls’ Troy MacTavish and Huntsville’s Palmer committed simultaneous holding penalties. While the second period saw a relative lack of penalties, there was no shortage of action. Huntsville’s Elgstam and Buster Larsson tied up the game with two goals in quick succession at the 14:40 and 16:44 marks.

But before the Havoc had time to rally around their momentum, the Bulls silenced them as MacGregor Sinclair and Rose landed two goals in less than a minute. Between the two teams, there were four goals total in less than three minutes of play. The momentum of the second period carried into the third as Birmingham’s MacTavish scored just 55 seconds in the third period. Tensions between the two teams erupted at 2:55 as Lewis and Cole Reginato exchanged blows resulting in five-minute fighting majors for both teams.

After this, Huntsville dominated the third period with two goals by Larsson at the 13:25 mark and Dominick Procopio with 2:59 to go, diminishing the Bulls’ lead to just one goal. Even though they pulled their goaltender with two minutes to spare, the Havoc were unable to tie up the game, resulting in a Birmingham 5-4 victory.

After back-to-back weekend wins, the Birmingham Bulls faced the Evansville Thunderbolts on Monday, Feb. 19 for an action-packed last game of their home stretch. In the first period, Mark Zhukov of the Thunderbolts scored almost instantly 0:38 into the game. After both teams taking simultaneous slashing penalties at the 1:05 mark, Rose kicked off the scoring for the Bulls at the 14:24 mark. In the same play, Birmingham’s Glover took a penalty for cross-checking and Evansville’s Matt Dorsey earned a roughing penalty.

A little over four minutes later, both teams sent a player to the box for a five-minute fighting major after Kyler Matthews and Lincoln Hatten exchanged a few words. Glover scored a goal for Birmingham with 30 seconds left to finish the first period with a 2-1 lead for the Bulls. The second period saw an early Bulls goal from Josh Harris at the 3:04 mark which the Thunderbolts answered with a Jordan Spadafore goal at the 6:59 mark.

Later in the period, Birmingham went on the power play after Evansville’s Benjamin Lindberg earned a hooking penalty with Linberg and Rose both going to the box for roughing. The Bulls capitalized on the resulting power play with a goal from Joe Colatarci at the 16:01 mark. But before Birmingham could further solidify their lead, Brady Lynn of the Thunderbolts scored with 2:08 remaining, making the score 4-3 at the end of the second. Between periods, the Evansville Thunderbolts substituted their goaltender Brendahn Brawley for Ty Taylor.

With their new netminder, the Thunderbolts’ Myles Abbate scored early 1:05 into the period and they didn’t allow a goal for the rest of the period. With the scores tied up, the game moved into a shootout. Koryzev scored the first goal after a Thunderbolts miss, which was answered by Brady Lynn. Hatton and Rose successfully sank the puck into the net, with Evansville’s Hatton eventually scoring the game winning goal to end the shootout.

This defeat marked the end of the Birmingham Bulls’ homestand. Their road trip will begin with back-to-back games against the Macon Mayhem on Feb. 23-24.

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