Photo: Bryan Meeks
In front of a raucous opening night crowd to kick off their fifth season in Macon, the Mayhem got off to a strong start but dropped a 3-2 decision in overtime.
The Mayhem fed off the crowd and generated several high-end scoring chances in the first 20 minutes. Josh Koepplinger saw a shot from the left circle trickle through Danny Tirone’s equipment only to skitter wide of the net by inches. A few minutes later, Caleb Cameron set up Jimmy Soper for what looked like a tap-in goal, but Tirone made an incredible save with his left pad.
Macon found itself on back-to-back penalty kills to close out the first period. They fought off the first Fayetteville power play well, winning critical faceoffs in the defensive zone and wasting no time alleviating the pressure. Kevin Entmaa held his ground in goal, stopping all 12 shots he faced in the opening stanza.
Period two was riddled with high-end scoring opportunities, predominantly from Macon. The Mayhem found themselves on a 3-on-0 rush with a chance to break the stalemate, but Tirone stayed deep in his net and kept the puck out with his right pad. Finally, 6:29 into the second period, the Mayhem broke the ice. Josh Cousineau was fed a centering pass by Josh Koepplinger from the right corner, and the former Pensacola captain buried his first goal with the Mayhem by tapping the puck through the five-hole of Tirone.
Marcus Ortiz doubled Macon’s lead less than seven minutes later, electing to pull the trigger on a 3-on-1 rush and beating Tirone with a low-blocker snipe. Fayetteville did have an answer, however, as high-scoring defenseman Travis Jeke pulled off a toe drag on a Marksmen power play and snapped a wrist shot past Entmaa to get the visitors on the board entering the second intermission.
The Marksmen tallied another power play goal early in the third period, as Max Cook leveled the score just 2:23 into the final frame. With time winding down in regulation, Stepan Timofeev drew a penalty shot after bursting down the slot on a breakaway. The Russian rookie attempted to regain Macon’s lead, but was denied by Tirone’s right pad.
In overtime, Soper found himself on a breakaway to end the game, but he was denied by Tirone. 2:56 into sudden death, Jeke ripped a shot from the right circle and beat Entmaa inside the left post, spoiling the Mayhem’s opening night.
Entmaa stopped 45 of the 48 shots he faced and fell to 0-0-1 on the season. Tirone earned a win in his Fayetteville debut, denying 39 of 41. The Mayhem will host the defending champion Huntsville Havoc on Saturday, October 19th at 7 pm ET. For tickets, click here.