By James Hayes | Field Pass
For the second consecutive night, the Birmingham Bulls went into the Knoxville Civic Coliseum to face off against the Knoxville Ice Bears. Birmingham would be looking to get their first win against the Ice Bears on the season as well as stop a 4-game losing streak. In net for the first time in his professional career for the Bulls was Evan Moyse. Moyse most recently played for Ohio State University and joined Birmingham earlier this week after the Buckeyes were eliminated from post-season play in the NCAA tournament. Peter Di Salvo got the nod for the second straight night in net for the Ice Bears.
Knoxville would test the young netminder early in the first period. Moyse would turn everything away showing he was not going to be rattled in his first start. Birmingham got called for hooking near the halfway point of the first frame which would be another opportunity for the Ice Bears to test the rookie goaltender. The Birmingham penalty kill stood their ground during the Knoxville power play, and both teams went back to 5 on 5 hockey. Much like the night before Knoxville outshot Birmingham 11-5 in the first period, however both clubs went into the locker room still looking for the first goal of the game.
In the second period Knoxville finally solved the rookie goaltender and did so twice. The first of the two came 6:55 into the period when Scott Cuthrell took a shot from the left-wing circle and beat Moyse high on the glove side. The second goal came on the powerplay when Kasey Kulczycki got called for interference. In the waning seconds of the powerplay, Jacob Benson took a shot that somehow trickled underneath Moyse making it a 2-0 game in favor of the Ice Bears. It wasn’t all bad news for the Bulls though, shortly after an unsuccessful powerplay, Tyler Penner took a pass in the high slot and send the puck sailing into the back of the net notching the first tally of the game for the Bulls. The period ended with the score 2-1 in favor of Knoxville with both teams playing 4 on 4 hockey to carry over into the final frame.
The highlight of the third period was not the two goals Knoxville added to the scoreboard, rather it was the fact that there were 8 penalties called between the two teams. A very sloppy period ended up producing 2 powerplay goals for the Ice Bears and a penalty shot goal for the Bulls. The first goal of the period came when Jacob Benson swatted a puck that was flying across the crease into the back of the net making it a 3-1 lead for Knoxville. A few minutes later while Birmingham was on the penalty kill, Kasey Kulczycki got tripped up on a breakaway which would result in a penalty shot. On the penalty shot, Kulczycki faked coming back across the blue paint and instead split the pads of Di Salvo making it a one-goal game. While still on the same penalty kill, Birmingham would get called for another penalty putting them at a 5 on 3 disadvantage. Knoxville would capitalize on the two-man advantage when Johnny Curran skated into the slot and fired one into the net on a shot that Moyse never saw. The game would conclude with Knoxville winning 4-2 for the second time in as many nights.
After the game Coach Simchuk had this to say about the loss, “The team works so hard every single time they are on the ice. We have to stay out of the box to have a chance.”
Birmingham dropped their 5th straight and will head into Huntsville on Saturday night for another round of the Battle for Bama. Huntsville was the site of the last Bulls win that came back on March 14th in a 3-2 victory. Birmingham will be looking for similar results this time around as the season is winding down and the team desperately needs to start collecting points in the standings to avoid being left out of the playoffs.