With the season winding down, the Quad City Storm have to focus on the things they can control.
They aren't expecting help from anyone else.
Jacob Barber scored 2 minutes, 20 seconds into overtime to lift the Birmingham Bulls to a 3-2 win over the Storm on Sunday at the TaxSlayer Center. The result moves the Bulls into a tie with the Storm for eighth place with 40 points. The Storm have 12 games remaining while the Bulls have 10.
Barber got loose for the goal after appearing to trip Cole Golka, who had beat Barber entering the zone. But there was no call from the official, leading to a 2-on-1 and the goal.
"He's right there, the puck's right there, it's not like there's any interference or visual disturbance by any means," head coach Dave Pszenyczny said. "It definitely resulted in a 2-on-1 and a goal. Right now our team's fighting for a playoff spot and who knows, is that the point that hurts us? We won't know until the season's over."
There was no question in Pszenyczny's mind Golka was tripped on the play.
"Is it a trip? Absolutely. All the fans saw it and after having some words with other people, it's a trip," Pszenyczny said. "If they don't score on that, but when we're going the other way, if that guy doesn't trip him, we end up with a 2-on-1. Do we score on it? We don't know but obviously there's penalties and I sure would like my power play going 2 for 3 and it's a 4-on-3 in overtime. I sure would like that."
It wasn't the only thing out of the Storm's control.
Midway through the second period, defenseman Joe Sova thought he put the Storm on the board, getting goaltender Artt Brey out of position and jamming the puck into a mess of players.
Sova raised his arm in celebration but no goal was called as a Bulls player closed his hand on the puck to prevent the goal before shoving it to Brey.
"It's quick, it happened so fast, it is what it is. There's only one ref to make that call, we don't have two out here. It's one of those things, part of the game," Sova said. "I know it's in the net. I don't celebrate non-goals, I don't score enough goals to be doing that. I know when the puck's in the net. It is what it is."
The issue got even worse prior to the third period.
"He (the ref) came up to me before the third and said, 'I made the wrong call, it should have been a goal,'" Pszenyczny said. "I know we're all human and we make mistakes and you have to make a decision and obviously it wasn't an outcome on the game, we don't have to go to overtime at that point. But it just changes the flow of the game."
At the very least, Pszenyczny questions why a penalty shot wasn't given.
Rule 67.4 of the SPHL rule book states, "If a player, except a goalkeeper, while play is in progress, falls on the puck, holds the puck, picks up the puck, or gathers the puck into his body or hands from the ice in the goal crease area, the play shall be stopped immediately and a penalty shot shall be awarded to the non-offending team."
Pszenyczny feels that's what happened on the play.
"I'm either getting a goal there or a penalty shot when the guy grabs it and puts it over because you can't close your hand on it," Pszenyczny said. "If I have to know the rules, the people that are running the game out there should have to know them as well."
That said, the Storm did themselves no favors by falling in a 2-0 hole.
Mike Davis scored a backhand goal while falling to the ice just 4:18 into the game.
In the second period, Russell Jordan fired a shot that got past a screened Ryan Mulder to put the Bulls up 2-0.
"We've got to be better, all the way around," Sova said. "No goal, it's part of the game, non-calls, it all goes both ways. They were just a percentage better than us and took the almighty extra point and hopefully down the line that doesn't hurt us."
The Storm battled back in the third with power play goals from Junior Harris and Sova. Sova picked up the puck following his goal to give to Shane Bennett, who recorded his 100th career SPHL point by assisting on the goal.
"I grabbed one from last night, apparently that was his 99th point," Sova said. "So I was one point extra but it was kind of cool to get the 100th from me."
Mulder made 26 saves in net, playing his third game in three nights with Peter Di Salvo day-to-day following a lower body injury sustained in Saturday's pregame skate.
To battle back and grab a point is at least something, but if it will make a difference at the end remains to be seen.
"At least we got a point out of it," Pszenyczny said. "We didn't play horribly, two mistakes ended up in the back of our net. Mulds played a 3-in-3 ... it's tough but he gave us a chance each night."