By Shawn Bednard | Macon Mayhem
Winners of five-straight games and in sole-possession of first-place in the Southern Professional Hockey League, the Macon Mayhem came into their first midweek home game of the season feeling justifiably confident. Taking on the "defending"-champion Huntsville Havoc for the first time in 58 days - the season opener for Macon - the Mayhem looked to keep doing what'd been working for them in their recent strech.
Things would not follow the agenda in period #1, as Huntsville would come in guns-blazing and forecheck choking. Before nine minutes had even gone by in the first frame, Josh Bowes and Rob Darrar would score their fourth goals of the season to quickly make it a 2-0 Havoc lead. Macon would wake up as the second half of the period would get underway, and create some opportunities into the final few minutes, including a Power Play in the final minute, but would not find pay dirt early in this one. The Mayhem would head to the locker room with bleed over PP time and a 11-7 shots advantage, but a 2-0 deficit on the board.
The second period would be a back and forth battle for both sides, starting with Mason Baptista losing the Power Play opportunity for the Mayhem. On that ensuing Havoc PP, Matthew Barnaby would net his eighth of the season and make it a 3-0 Huntsville lead. Macon would begin to apply the pressure as a pair of man-up opportunities would come their way, and with just over four minutes left to go in the frame, Mason Baptista would net his sixth of the year, and draw the Mayhem deficit to just two. They'd keep the pressure on as the second would come to a close, looking for a big third period to knot things up. Macon once again outshot Huntsville, 7-6 in the second; 18-13 in the game.
Down by a pair in the final period, it would be time for Kerr's Cardiac Kids to put on their work boots. Depending on your point of view, you'll tell a different story of how the second goal of the night got through for the Mayhem, just over four minutes into the period. Some will say Dean Balsamo snuck it through, while others (including the scorebook) show a Max Cook back-hand through Milosek's five-hole. Regardless of how, the puck got through and gave the Mayhem a 3-2 deficit. Macon would absolutely mount a furious effort in the remaining 15 minutes to knot this game up, but Huntsville's defense did the absolute most to ensure that wasn't the case. After pulling Ruck for the extra skater with 1:40 to go, Macon failed to maintain any legitimate offensive pressure, until the final 20 seconds. With less than 8 seconds to go, the puck would bounce around the offensive end, somehow landing on Baptista's stick and into the back of the net with 0:01 on the clock. Macon would somehow, someway knot the game up at the buzzer.
Heading into what can only be called an unlikely overtime, the Mayhem finished the job the rest of the way, as Mason Baptista would let the hats fly in Middle Georgia just over 90 seconds into the extra period. His eighth goal of the season, the Mayhem's second hat trick of the year, and an improbable overtime victory give the team their sixth straight win, and an absolute momentum shot heading into Huntsville tomorrow night for the final game of the weekend.
The Mayhem continue to assert their dominance at the top of the SPHL leaderboard, now 11-2-2 on the season. They return home Tuesday Night against the second-place Pensacola Ice Flyers.