By Shawn Bednard | Macon Mayhem
Rookie Forward Jason Tackett’s fourth-goal of the season with :33 left on Thursday Nightlanded the Macon Mayhem their fourth-straight win. On top of the continued streak, the Mayhem were able to clinch their first playoff-appearance since the 2018-19 season. As the #1 team in the league, the Mayhem would travel up to Knoxville to take on the #2 Ice Bears in another edition of the battle of the titans; last time out, the Mayhem downed the Ice Bears 4-1 on home ice. It would be an uphill battle this time around for the guys from Middle Georgia.
The winningest-goaltender in SPHL history, Peter Di Salvo, would get the start for Knoxville opposite of Macon’s Ryan Ruck. Before the first media timeout of the opening frame, each side would head to the box for minor penalties that would fail to result in scores. Just past the halfway mark of period one, Callum Fryer would beat Ruck for his second goal of the season, and secure a 1-0 Ice Bear lead that would follow them into the intermission. With the horn sounding, Knoxville would hold an 11-8 shot advantage.
An active second period would follow suit for both teams, as a quick-moving first half of the frame would fine a Ryan Smith goal for the second night in a row for Macon. Smith’s seventh goal of the year would knot things up just before the halfway mark of the game. Within 20 seconds of Smith’s score, the Mayhem would head to the box for a Bowen interference. The power play opportunity would result in a Scott Cuthrell score for his third of the year. Knoxville would re-take the lead, 2-1. An Anthony McVeigh penalty would go fruitless for the Mayhem power play. With just under a minute left in the frame, Jason Tackett would score for his second night in a row, and knot things up with his fifth of the year. After 40 minutes, Knoxville would lead in shots 21-19, in a 2-2 game.
Knoxville would bounce back strong in the third period, looking to continue their success on home ice. After Logan Coomes would head to the box for a high-stick minor, he would drop the gloves with Callum Fryer nearing the halfway mark of the frame. On the other side of the fight, Mathieu Roy would net his eighth of the season, and once-more give the Ice Bears the lead, 3-2. With just under three minutes to go, Colton Heffley would put the game away on his fourth goal, and give the Ice Bears a 4-2 victory.
Macon’s streak would be snapped at four-straight wins, as the Ice Bears outshot the Mayhem 29-27. While Macon still has two games in hand over Knoxville, the Ice Bears are right on the Mayhem’s tail in the points standings.