By James Hayes | Field Pass
Birmingham would travel up the road to visit in state rival,the Huntsville Havoc for the 6th time the season on Saturday night. The Bulls would be looking for some revenge after being shutout in the last matchup 7-0 at home on February 5th. Huntsville would be playing their 3rd game in as many nights, looking to redeem themselves after losing twice to the league leading Macon Mayhem. This would be Austin Lotz second game back in net after his lengthy suspension and he would go up against long time Havoc goaltender Max Milosek.
The first period would get started and it would be a wild one. The period would have a combined eight penalties between the two teams, Birmingham would own five of those and Huntsville would take the other 3. The first penalty would come just 1:35 into the period when Birmingham's Jacob Smith would get called for hooking. Just over 6 minutes into the game Nolan Kaiser of Huntsville would find himself in the middle of a scrum behind the net that almost developed into a fight with Birmingham’s Jared Legien. The refs would step in instantly and work to break up the chaos. When the dust settled Birmingham would have two guys go to the penalty box and Kaiser would be the only Havoc player sitting for 2 minutes.
With 8:36 remaining in the period the Bulls would find themselves on a 5-on-3 penalty kill when Kasey Kulczycki would join teammate Mike Davis in the penalty box for a slashing call. The Bulls and Austin Lotz would successfully kill of the 5-on-3 but a few moments later while still shorthanded in the 5-on-4 penalty kill the Havoc would sneak one past Austin Lotz. The goal would come of Isaac Johnson’s stick when he would take a pass from Tommy Besinger while skating across the slot. Johnson would send the puck flying passed Lotz on the stick side and we would have a 1-0 game with Huntsville in the lead.
An already very physical first period would only get more physical after the goal and we would see both teams finishing their checks. With 2:44 remaining in the period Huntsville’s John Schiavo would take a pass near the blue line and skate towards the right-wing circle and fire a shot into heavy traffic in front of Lotz, scoring the Havoc’s second goal of the night. The Bull’s would go into the locker room for the first intermission down 2-0.
The second period would begin with a few more penalties to add to the box score. The Bulls would find themselves getting two powerplay opportunities thanks to penalties from Nolan Kaiser for holding 2:42 into the period and Isaac Johnson for hooking 7:43 into the period. Huntsville’s penalty kill would stand strong and find a way to keep Birmingham off the scoresheet. Shortly after the penalty to Johnson ended, Huntsville’s John Schiavo would once again put himself in the perfect position to score. Rod Darrar would shoot the puck towards the net and Schiavo would redirect the puck with his stick giving Lotz no chance and the Havoc would go up 3-0.
With 5:20 remaining in the second frame Birmingham’s Jarod Hilderman would not take kindly to a hip check from Havoc play Pat Condon, and he would drop the gloves and go after him. Hilderman got the jump in the fight so he got a few good blows in. The fight quickly turned into wrestling match and both players would go down to the ice. Both Condon and Hilderman would pick up an extra two-minute minor out of the deal and we would go to 4 on 4 hockey for the next two minutes. It wouldn’t take the Havoc long to once again find the back of the net when Isaac Johnson would take a pass from John Schiavo and beat Austin Lotz, putting the Havoc in a commanding 4-0 lead.
With 4:32 remaining in the period Bull’s player, Mackenzie Dwyer would take a high stick to the face from Huntsville’s Tommy Besinger that would result in a 4-minute powerplay for the Bull’s. The Bulls struggling powerplay unit would find a way to get on the scoreboard when Jacob Smith would collect a pass from Cameron Strong and send the puck passed Max Milosek. This would be the first goal against the Havoc for the Bulls in nearly 5 periods of play. After the goal Birmingham would finish out the second period strong and look to carry some of that momentum into the final period being down 4-1.
The third period would continue the trend of the night and we would see an early penalty at the 2:49 mark. This penalty would go against Birmingham’s Harrison Harper for interference. Birmingham would kill of the penalty and quickly try to get back to work at cutting down Huntsville’s lead.
6:05 into the period they would do just that when CJ Hayes would find the back of the net. Mike Davis would send the puck across the crease to Hayes, who would see a wide-open net when Milosek was late coming across his crease. The goal would bring the Bulls within 2 goals of tying things up. John Schiavo who just refused to be denied all night had other plans for he and the Havoc when he got his third goal of the night with just over 11 minutes remaining in the game. Schiavo would get a pass from Rob Darrar once again while standing in the crease and knock the puck in the get the hat trick goal. A few minutes later things would boil over and Birmingham’s Kasey Kulczycki would drop the gloves with Havoc player Bryan Arneson. Kulczycki would show tons of energy and speed throwing punches frequent and fast before the referees would step in and ultimately send both men to the penalty box for a 5-minute timeout. Birmingham would try to close the gap on the scoreboard for the remainder of the game but would just struggle to get anything really going. The Havoc would end the night in the win column with a 5-2 victory.
After the game Bulls Head Coach, Craig Simchuk said,
“We can’t continue to beat ourselves night in and night out. Guys have to realize taking penalties has consequences and we have to learn that fast.”
The Bull’s ended the night with 9 penalties amounting to 29 minutes in the penalty box, while going 1 for 5 on the penalty kill. The team will have a few days to get things straightened out before they welcome the Knoxville Ice Bears into town next Thursday night in the 4th game between the two clubs this season.