By James Hayes | Field Pass
One night after falling short in Knoxville the Bulls drop the fifth matchup of the season against the Huntsville Havoc in a one-sided affair that would end in a 7-0 victory for Huntsville. The night would start with Hayden Stewart getting his second start in as many games. Across the ice from Stewart would be long time Havoc goaltender Max Milosek. Milosek came into the night with a record of 2-3 on the season and 4.07 goals against average. The Bulls would also finally suit up Center Alec Baer for the first time since opening night where he sustained an injury that would place him on long term injured reserve. Also suiting up for the second time this season would be former Bulls captain and fan favorite Josh Harris.
The first period would kick off and Huntsville would not waste anytime scoring only 1:28 into the period with a goal from Matthew Barnaby. The goal would come when Barnaby and teammate Kyle Rhoades would storm into the offensive zone on a two on one against Bulls defensemen Anthony Florentino. Rhodes would take the shot and the rebound would come out to Barnaby who would have no trouble putting the puck into the net. The Havoc would only continue to heat up as 11 seconds later as Barnaby would pass the puck to Peter Sikalis who would find Sy Nutkevitch wide open in the slot for the Havoc’s second goal of the game. A few minutes later the Havoc would strike yet again, this time Huntsville Rob Darrar would send a pass to Nolan Kaiser at the blue line for a one timer that found its way through traffic and past Hayden Stewart to put the Havoc up 3-0 only 3:04 into the game. As if that wasn’t enough for the first period at the 4:23 mark in the period Isaac Johnson would send a puck toward the net from the blue line and it would bounce off the back of a Birmingham player, right to Huntsville’s Josh Bowes who would find himself with space in front of Stewart and launch the puck past him. The Bulls coaching staff decided after letting in 4 goals in a span of two minutes and fifty-five seconds they would pull goaltender Hayden Stewart and replace him in net with newcomer Austyn Roudebush. The Bulls would find themselves on the penalty kill shortly after the goalie change when Jared Legien would be called for tripping at the 6:42 mark in the first. It was during this power play that the Havoc would find the net for the fifth time in the period. There would be chaos in front of Roudebush and somehow Sy Nutkevitch would find a rebound and get his second goal of the game. Later in the period Nutkevitch would give the Bulls there first power play of the night. Huntsville didn’t seem to care much for being down a man on the ice and John Schiavo would clear the puck out of the zone for the Havoc somehow finding Defensemen Derek Perl who would skate down short handed and shoot wide of the net, and on a night everything seems to be going right for the Havoc the puck would bounce off the boards right to the stick of JM Piotrowski would wrist the puck into the net and put the Havoc up 6-0 in the first period and that is the deficit the Bulls would face when heading into the locker room after one period of play.
The second period would feature a feisty Bulls team and 2 minutes into the period Taylor Pryce would lay a huge hit on Havoc captain Tyler Piacentini causing the helmet to come off. Havoc player Rob Darrar didn’t like it one bit and dropped the gloves with Pryce. The fight would end quickly as the players would fall to the ground and the referee would break them up. Birmingham would play a much better second period and see some really good chances when they were on the power play with 13 minutes remaining in the second period. No matter how hard they pushed they still could not find the back of the net during the power play. The end of the period would be penalty filled for Birmingham with Alec Baer going off with 1:25 to go in the period for cross checking and shortly thereafter Kasey Kulczycki would join him in the box after being called for slashing with forty-seven second remaining in the period. The Bulls would escape the period without falling further behind and go to the locker room still down 6-0.
The 3rd period would start with Birmingham down two men and defending a 5 on 3 powerplay. Huntsville took full advantage of the power play when Nolan Kaiser would blast a shot from the point and Piacentini would gather up the rebound and put it in the back of the net to make it 7-0 Havoc with just over 18 minutes to go in the game. The rest of the period would feature some very physical play and would result in multiple penalties being called with two and a half minutes remaining in the game. It would start with a boarding call to Josh Harris and then as the referees would try to maintain the peace you would see 3 Bulls players get sent to the locker room early with game misconduct calls. When the dust settled the Bulls would find themselves on the penalty kill once again. About 30 seconds later things would boil over when Birmingham’s Taylor Pryce would drop the gloves with Jason Kalinowski of the Havoc. This again would not prove to be much of a fight as both men would fall to the ice. The referees would also give Pryce and Kalinowski a game misconduct for continuing the altercation after being split up. The game would finish up with the Havoc being on the main advantage in a four on three after all the penalties were handed out. At the final horn Havoc goaltender Max Milosek would get his first shutout of the season in the 7-0 victory and the Havoc would take a 3-2 lead in the season series.
After the game when Coach Simchuk was asked, “Is sloppy on the ice a good word to use after a game like that?” He responded with,
“Frustrating, its hard right? Not only were we not getting bounces we wanted but we’re also shooting ourselves in the foot at times.”
Indeed, it was a very frustrating game for the Bulls especially in a first period that seemed to feature the puck landing in the perfect spot to score over and over again for the Havoc. They will have to wait until February 27th to seek revenge for this loss when they travel up the road to Huntsville for round 6 in the “Battle for Bama.” In the meantime, they will have to quickly overcome this loss as they travel to Macon for a showdown with the Macon Mayhem on Saturday night for there third game in as many days.