HUNTSVILLE – The Havoc welcomed the Birmingham Bulls to Pharmacy First Ice on Friday night and finished the evening with their fourth win in a row 5-3.
The win helps close the gap for third place Huntsville who are now only eight points behind the Bulls in the SPHL standings.
“This was a must-win game for us if we want to give ourselves a chance at second place,” said Havoc Head Coach Glenn Detulleo. “I was really happy with our effort and execution level. It was nice to see the team rewarded for playing such a solid game.”
Ryan Salkeld opened the scoring for the Havoc (27-14-2) by redirecting a Nolan Kaiserrocket just 6:31 in to the game. Four minutes later, Stephen Hrehoriak capitalized on a Bulls turnover in their own zone and went one on one with the Birmingham netminder. Skating left across the face of goal, Hero flipped the puck over the keeper’s blocker to put the Havoc up by two halfway through the first. Birmingham (31-12-2) would get one back before the end of the period and Huntsville was ahead by one at the break.
Both teams settled in to a defensive battle for the first 11 minutes of the second period untilTyler Piacentini pushed home a rebound of a Christian Powers shot to reinstate the two-goal cushion for the second intermission. Huntsville only allowed four shots on goal in the middle frame.
The teams would trade goals in the final measure, with Birmingham scoring first to make it a 3-2 game. In his first game back after a five-week stay in the ECHL, Rob Darrar threw a quick backhand to the Birmingham net as he approached the end line during a powerplay midway through the period. The Bulls goalie made the save but deflected the puck right in the path of a charging Powers who banked it off the right pipe and in to paydirt.
The Havoc once again held a two-goal lead, but Birmingham stuck close to their in-state rivals, scoring again with five minutes remaining. Still a goal down, the Bulls pulled their goalie with just under two minutes remaining and even went on a powerplay with just over a minute left.
The Huntsville defense held strong and, with 11 seconds left on the clock, Havoc rookie defenseman Dale Deon scored his first SPHL goal on the empty net in his 29th game with the club.
The Havoc outshot Birmingham 41 to 27 with Huntsville keeper Max Milosek making 24 saves in his fourth straight win. The video highlights of the 5-3 win, including a couple of solid checks in to the boards, can be found on the Havoc YouTube channel.
Salkeld and Piacentini continue streaking, earning points in each of the last six games. Salkeld has 8 points (3g, 5a) during that span and currently leads the league in goals on the season with 21. Piacentini has 9 points (5g, 4a) in the last half-dozen.
Sy Nutkevtich recorded three assists in a single game for the fifth time this season. He is third in the league with 46 total points this season, right behind Salkeld with 49. They both trail Peoria’s Ben Blasko who has 56.
Deon was a late addition to the lineup. He was already scheduled to be a healthy scratch, and did not warm up with the team, but was suddenly called upon to suit up just a few minutes before the puck drop.
The Havoc and Bulls tangle twice more next weekend, March 8 and 9. Both games are at the Von Braun Center and will be the final regular season games between the two.
Article Credit: Huntsville Havoc
Photo Credit: Huntsville Havoc