By James Hayes | Field Pass
The Birmingham Bulls would welcome the league leading Macon Mayhem to the Pelham Civic Center for a Friday night battle. The season series between the two has been nothing but exciting to watch and this Friday night matchup was primed to keep things going.
This game would also be the first in a back to back between the two teams at the Pelham Civic Center on the weekend. The previous matchup was the last time the Mayhem lost before they went on an 8-game win streak and one of the few wins that Birmingham have been able to pull together in the past month and a half.
Birmingham leads the season series 2-0-1 and would be looking to end a 4-game losing streak. Hayden Stewart would get the start on the night for the Bulls and on the other side Birmingham would face Jake Theut of the Mayhem.
The first period got off to a really fast pace with both teams eager to get the jump on one another. The action was fast and exciting despite there would only be one shot on goal registered in the first 5 minutes of play. The Bulls would continue the trend of being the best in the league at being penalized when Jacob Smith would get called for a cross check 5:20 into the period.
Despite the efforts from SPHL star Mason Baptista during the powerplay the score would remain 0-0 due to some big saves by Hayden Stewart. 11:04 into the first frame the scoreless tie would finally be broken when Macon's Jason Tackett would take a pass of the board and skate into the slot to shoot and score. Sneaking one past Bulls goalie Hayden Stewart.
The remainder of the period would see a few more penalties from each side but no powerplay goals. With just under a minute left to play in the period Birmingham would see their best chance at scoring in the period get taken away by the stellar play of Jake Theut. A scrum would ensue in front of the net and would ultimately result in matching minors called and the teams would skate 4 on 4 for the remainder of the period. The Bull’s would go into the locker room after the first trailing the Macon Mayhem 1-0.
The second period started out skating 4 on 4 for 1:08, but the end result would be no goals from either side. The high paced play would continue from the first period and both sides would look for opportunities. At the 8:30 mark into the period, Macon’s Brian Bowen would receive a 5-minute major and a match penalty for a hit to the head of Birmingham’s Alec Baer. Despite having a 5-minute PP the Bull’s would quickly give up a short-handed goal to Macon when Nick Minerva would come in and shot beating Stewart short side to extend Macon’s lead to 2-0.
A few minutes later on the same powerplay, Birmingham would finally get a goal for the first time in just over 3 ½ periods. The goal would come when Logan Nelson would collect a rebound off a Jacob Smith’s shot and send the puck into the back of the net. Shortly after the goal the Bull’s captain would get called for elbowing and Birmingham would have to kill off another penalty. The penalty kill was successful, and we would go back to the same high paced back and forth play.
With 4:11 remaining in the second period, Birmingham’s Cole Stallard would tie the game up after taking a quick pass from MacKenzie Dwyer. Stallard would redirect the puck and it would jump up and over Mayhem goalie Jake Theut to tie the game. A few minutes late Macon’s Andrew Romano would once again put the Mayhem in the lead when he would redirect a big slapshot from Jimmy Soper and beat Stewart for the 3-2 lead and that is the score the two teams would go to the locker room with.
The 3rd period got going really quick when Macon’s Ryan Smith would dangle around the Bull’s defense and send the puck flying past Hayden Stewart putting the Mayhem up 4-2 just 1:07 into the final frame. Birmingham would show they have a Smith of their own that can score just over thirty second later when Jacob Smith would beat Jake Theut with a wrist shot from the high slot and once again bring the Bull’s within one goal. The rest of the period would feature a hungry Birmingham team leaving everything they can on the ice to tie the game up.
With 51 second remaining, the Bulls would pull goaltender Stewart for the extra attacker. The extra attacker would shortly thereafter commit a cross checking penalty and the Bull’s would end the game on the penalty kill. During the kill the Bull’s would gain possession of the puck and pull the goalie once again to give it one final shot but in the end the Mayhem would persevere and win the game 4-3.
Birmingham will have an opportunity to get some revenge on Macon when they play them once again on Saturday night to close out the two-game series between the two teams. The Bulls will be looking to end a season high 5 game losing streak and start to work there way out of last place in the SPHL.