Havoc Take Third Straight Playoff Game to OT, Beat the Bulls 4-3
BIRMINGHAM - The Cardiac Pack is at it again.
For the third consecutive game in the playoffs, the Huntsville Havoc needed bonus hockey to take down their opponent. The first two helped the team sweep the Knoxville Ice Bears out of the post season last weekend.
The third was Friday, April 26, in game one of the SPHL championship series as the Havoc took down their in-state rival the Birmingham Bulls 4 to 3 in overtime to move one win away from back-to-back President's Cup titles.
"I was really happy with our effort tonight," said Havoc Head Coach Glenn Detulleo. "We played a solid road game -- getting scores from all three lines, defending well, and getting big saves when we needed them. It's the type of total team effort needed to win this time of year."
These teams faced off in the first game of the regular season way back in October - a game the Bulls won at home 5-4. It is only fitting that these two should play to determine who brings home the SPHL championship.
When the puck dropped in an electric Pelham Civic Complex, the Havoc fan base was well represented as hundreds made the trip down Interstate-65 to watch the Battle for Bama become the battle for the President's Cup.
That Havoc faithful believed the visitors had a goal in the first three minutes, but the score was waved off as the referee said it had been played off a high stick. Birmingham responded a few minutes later with a cross pass to a charging Mike Davis in the slot who punched it past Huntsville keeper Max Milosek at 4:49 in to the contest to take the early lead.
It was mostly a clean skate in the first third of the game until Birmingham committed a slashing penalty with 91 seconds left in the period. Huntsville could not capitalize on the powerplay.
However, after the powerplay expired in the second period, the Havoc kept possession of the puck and were finally able to work it inside for a quick backhand score by Derek Perl - his first goal of the post-season.
Less than 80 seconds later, Tyler Piacentini was skating along the boards behind the Birmingham net and slipped a pass to Sy Nutkevtich crossing in front of the Bulls crease. Sy one-timed the puck past Parks to give Huntsville the lead just 2:47 in to the second period.
The game started getting a little chippy as the period dragged on with a couple of shoving matches breaking out during stops in play. Huntsville was finally called for its first penalties late in the second period but killed them both.
In fact, on the second penalty kill, Kyle Sharkey stole the puck in the neutral zone and hit Piacentini streaking down the middle for a breakaway. Ty went top shelf on the backhand for a shorthanded score and the Havoc were up 3-1 heading in to the second intermission.
Despite allowing three goals in the previous period, Birmingham proved why they are one of the top teams in the league when they came back out for the third stanza. The Bulls scored twice in less than three minutes to tie the game. The first score came on an early powerplay. A minute or so after the goal, tempers finally boiled over when a hit from Birmingham's Andrew Darrigo sent one of the Havoc down hard. Huntsville's Peter Sikalis quickly stepped up and, after the smoke cleared, both men were booked for fighting. When play resumed, Birmingham soon scored again to tie the game at 3.
Later in the third, the Bulls were awarded another golden opportunity when Ryan Salkeld was issued a double-minor for high sticking. The Havoc tightened up their defense and some stellar Milosek saves helped kill the four-minute penalty.
Regulation expired and both teams headed to the locker rooms to strategize the overtime - a place the Havoc had been three previous times in this post-season, winning two of them.
The boys from the Rocket City kept their cool, continuing to possess the puck for long stretches and waiting for the right moment. It finally came just past five minutes in to the OT as Rob Darrar pulled the trigger on a wrister from the left circle that popped the back of the net, sending Havoc fans in to a frenzy and Bulls fans toward the exits.
Milosek finished with 31 saves on the night and Trevor Gerling supported the team with a pair of assists. He leads the team with 7 points in the post-season (2g, 5a).
The series shifts to the friendly confines of the Von Braun Center on Saturday, April 27, at 7:35 p.m. for game two of the best-of-three series. While there are some tickets left, they are going quickly. You will want to be a part of this one as the Havoc fight to return the President's Cup to the Rocket City. Call the Havoc front office or log in to ticketmaster.com to get your seats for game two of the SPHL championship series. If the Havoc win on Saturday, the team is once again kings of the SPHL.
Should they lose, the Bulls and Havoc play a winner-take-all game three at the Pelham Civic Complex on Monday, April 29.
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Southern Professional Hockey League Stories from April 27, 2019
- Havoc Take Third Straight Playoff Game to OT, Beat the Bulls 4-3 - Huntsville Havoc
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