By Shawn Bednard | Macon Mayhem
#1 versus #2. A possible preview of the Southern Professional Hockey League’s President’s Cup Championship. With 10-straight wins for Knoxville, the Macon Mayhem welcomed in the hottest team in the SPHL with first-place on the line. After dropping two straight to start the weekend, the Mayhem knew they had something to prove – to themselves, and the league. Superstition is a funny thing, and for the Mayhem, it meant alternating to their road white jerseys to play like everyone’s against them. Facing an undefeated Austyn Roudebush in net, the Mayhem would look to score early and maintain late.
This titanic battle proved every bit of its worth in the first frame, as both teams looked playoff ready in their runs up and down the ice. While each team would get an early chance on the Power Play, it would be the penalty killers that would prevail and keep the game scoreless. In a terrible deja vu from Friday’s OT, Ryan Smith would roof a puck past Roudebush, but it would be called back yet again for incidental contact, and keep the Mayhem off the board. The rookie Smith would not let this sit, as he’d fire one behind the net and find it behind Roudebush for the game’s first goal with 6:21 to go. With momentum on their side, the Mayhem would find a goal kicked in by an Ice Bear on a Logan Coomes shot, and the lead would jump up to 2-0 with 3:59 to go. Macon would retain this lead, and hold an 8-7 shot advantage going into the first intermission.
Mitigating unnecessary risks continued to be the trend in middle frame, as Macon would kill all the clock they could. Holding onto a 2-1 lead against a hot Knoxville team, the pressure to keep the foot on the throat was palpable. The Mayhem would do a solid job of bending but no breaking on defense, as the Ice Bears controlled a majority of time in the period in their offensive zone. On a faceoff draw in the Macon offensive end, Jacob Benson would be fed a lead-pass into the neutral zone that would turn into a goal past Theut on the right side, and make it a 2-1 game with 7:23 remaining in the frame. A Joe Masonius penalty for Delay of Game would be killed, and the Mayhem would battle through the final seconds looking for yet another insurance goal that wouldn’t come. After 40 minutes, Macon held a slim 2-1 lead, and a shots advantage 19-16.
Macon would take over in the third period, ready to put away the Knoxville Ice Bears once and for all this weekend. In a high-intensity battle period, the Mayhem would find a goal just past the halfway point from Jimmy Soper that would give the final insurance that the team needed, making it 3-1 with 7:31 to go. Knoxville, desperate to keep their streak alive, would pull Roudebush in the final three minutes, and Brian Bowen would know exactly what to do, as he sent it in for his first of the weekend with 2:39 to go, making it a 4-1 lead. Macon would dominate through the end, and take the win over the league’s hottest team, stopping the Knoxville streak at 10-straight.
The Mayhem remain atop the SPHL standings at #1, forcing separation between them and #2 with a regulation win. The Mayhem close out the month of March down in Pensacola next Friday and Saturday.