By James Hayes | Field Pass
One night after being blown out in Pensacola, the Bulls were back at it again looking to split the weekend series with the Ice Flyers. Birmingham is currently sitting on the outside of the playoff picture and after Macon’s victory the night before there are now only 3 playoff spots remaining. In net was once again Jake Kupsky for the Ice Flyers and Evan Moyse for the Bulls.
The first period started at a very high pace and good scoring chances by both sides. Birmingham brought a lot of energy and you could see this night was not going to go down the same as the night before. Despite being pulled in the Thursday night loss, goaltender Evan Moyse looked very confident and comfortable in net throughout the first period. At the 10:56 mark in the period, we saw the first penalty of the game when Pensacola’s Jordan Ernst was called for slashing. The Birmingham powerplay looked very sharp early, and with 32 seconds remaining in the penalty, the Bulls scored the first goal of the night. Logan Nelson sent a pass to Jacob Smith who was waiting in the left faceoff circle, Smith wasted no time and sent the puck past Kupsky giving the Bulls the 1-0 lead. Birmingham kept the pressure on throughout the period and went into the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
The second period started out the way the first ended with the Bulls playing fast and physical. Despite their early efforts they couldn’t find a way to get another one past Kupsky. Just about 6 minutes into the middle period Pensacola scored the game-tying goal off a wrist shot from the top of the face-off circle by Jake Wahlin. At the 8:40 mark in the period, the Bulls got a prime opportunity to take the lead again when Taylor Pryce was called for tripping and the Bulls went back on the powerplay. This powerplay would not end the way that Birmingham had pictured when Eddie Matsushima for the second night in a row scored a short-handed goal off an odd-man rush. Birmingham was not about to show any quit after going down 2-1 and continued to fire shots at Pensacola goaltender Jake Kupsky. Kupsky would turn all the Birmingham shots away in the second period and the Bulls went to the locker room down 2-1.
Birmingham came out to start the 3rd period as a determined team. They had to kill off a delay of game penalty early on that was called against Anthony Collins. Pensacola was not going to just sit back and protect the lead in the final period as they tested Moyse often. Birmingham was given another chance to tie the game up on the powerplay when Ben Freeman of the Ice Flyers got called for hooking at the 11:40 mark of the period. This time the Bulls would capitalize when Tanner Froese took a pass in the slot and banged the puck into the back of the net making it a 2-2 game. Pensacola would place heavy pressure on Evan Moyse and the Bulls, but nothing would get through and the game would head to overtime.
The overtime period featured some great scoring chances on both sides of the ice but neither netminder would budge which meant the game would be decided in a shootout.
It took 7 rounds in the shootout to decide the game and in the end it was the Bulls who would prevail. In the final round of the shootout, Birmingham captain Logan Nelson beat Kupsky putting the Bulls up 4-3 in the shootout. This left things in the hands of rookie netminder Evan Moyse who would face Jake Wahlin for the 3rd time this shootout and previously had not been able to stop him. Moyse proved third times a charm and stopped the attempt giving Birmingham their first victory in 7 games.
Birmingham will look to take this momentum into Macon on Saturday night when they finish out the weekend against the top team in the league.