By James Hayes | Field Pass
For the second straight night the Birmingham Bulls welcomed the Macon Mayhem into the Pelham Civic Center for some Saturday night hockey. Austin Lotz got the start in between the pipes for the Bulls and stare across the ice at Mayhem star goaltender Jake Theut. The Bull’s lost a close one against the Mayhem one night before in a 4-3 game that featured plenty of action and would guarantee an action filled Saturday night matchup between the two teams.
The Bull’s game out strong in the first period, but so would the Mayhem. 4:13 into the first frame Birmingham got caught with too many men on the ice and have to go on the powerplay for the first time on the night. Macon wasted no time in taking advantage of the man advantage when a shot by Jason Tackett was redirected in front of Lotz by Stephen Pierog making it a 1-0 game in favor of the Mayhem.
Just under five minutes later, the league's top goal scorer, Mason Baptista of the Macon Mayhem decided that it was time for a 2-goal lead in the game. Nate Kallen would take a shot from the point and Baptista found himself in the right place at the right time to beat Lotz and extend the Mayhem lead. With 5 minutes remaining in the first period, Birmingham found a way to close the gap when Jacob Smith found himself streaking into the zone on a breakaway. Despite being tripped up by goaltender Theut, he still found a way to put the puck into the back of the net. Birmingham went into the locker rom after the first period down 2-1 with the momentum on their side.
Period number 2 got going and the Bulls found themselves with an early opportunity to tie the game up when Macon player, Matt Stief got called for a trip. At this point, things got a little bit out of hand. Macon seemed to forget they were on the penalty kill and Nate Kallen, with help from Mason Baptista, skated down the ice with Kallen, taking a shot that would send the rebound to Baptista. The top goal scorer wasted no time putting the puck into the net for the second time on the night. It wouldn’t stop there. Just under 30 seconds later the Mayhem would get an unprecedented second short handed goal when Joe Masonius took a shot and the rebound came back to his stick. He made the second attempt count and the score was suddenly 4-1 Macon.
With 9:32 remaining in the second period, Kasey Kulczycki had seen enough and dropped the gloves with Macon Captain Stephen Pierog. KCK was able to land a lot of good rights in a very spirited fight that resulted in Pierog going to the locker room for repairs.
Late in the period the Bulls found themselves in a position to once again close the gap when Mayhem player Andrew Romano got called for a hook. The powerplay was very short lived because just 10 seconds in, Bull Cameron Strong would get called for goalie interference. The 2nd period ended 4-1 with the Bull’s headed to the locker room trailing once again.
Macon came out in the third period looking to slow things down and protect their 3-point lead in the game. They would find themselves to be pretty successful in protecting the lead as frustrations started to boil over from the Bull’s bench. 6:57 into the period, Logan Nelson laid a hit that made contact with a Mayhem players head and Oscar Arfelt would come to his teammates defense immediately. Nelson dropped the gloves and got several body shots in before the fight was broken up and both men were sent to the penalty box.
With 8:34 remaining in regulation the Bulls once again found the net with a powerplay goal from Cameron Strong. The goal came when Anthony Florentino sent a centering pass toward Strong who hammered the puck into the back of the net. The Bulls didn’t get very many chances throughout the remainder of the 3rd period until there was just over 3 minutes remaining in the game. The Bulls went on the powerplay and pulled the goalie for a two-man advantage. Macon continued their strong defensive play and denied everything Birmingham would throw at them though. The night would end with a score of 4-2 in favor of the Macon Mayhem for the second night in a row.
This loss may have hurt just a little more than the last and was the 6th in a row for a struggling Birmingham team. Birmingham won’t have much time to dwell on the loss as they travel up the road to in-state rival Huntsville Havoc’s barn for a Sunday night game that will be the seventh meeting between the two this season.