Photo: Bryan Meeks
The Mayhem compiled a complete effort in their largest margin of victory of the season, triumphing 4-1 over Birmingham on Saturday night.
Looking to take advantage of a Birmingham squad which had travelled to Macon the day of the game, the Mayhem struck first and took an early lead. Just 4:37 into the game, the Mayhem forced a turnover in the offensive zone and scored on a quick 2-on-1. Jimmy Soper fed a cross-crease pass to Marcus Ortiz, who lifted the puck over Artt Brey’s pads to give the Mayhem a 1-0 lead.
The Bulls had an answer 7:59 into the contest when Kasey Kulczycki carried the puck into the Macon slot. He sold his shot and dished a pass to Canon Pieper on his left. Pieper put the puck on his backhand right in front of Kevin Entmaa and shoveled a shot over the goaltender’s glove. Just 24 seconds later, the Mayhem roared back to regain the advantage. Stephen Pierog raced down the left wing on another odd-man rush and delivered a perfect pass to Daniel Perez. The University of Maine grad hammered a one-timer past Brey, beating him cleanly to give the Mayhem a 2-1 edge heading into the first intermission.
Far fewer penalties were called in the second period, as a two-minute hooking minor called against Ortiz was the only infraction of the stanza. 6:07 into period two, Jarret Kup gave the Mayhem an insurance lead. He ripped a wrist shot through heavy traffic from the left side of the blue line, becoming the first defenseman on the Mayhem this season to score a goal. The Mayhem entered the closing frame with a two-goal lead.
Just over two minutes into the third, Ortiz forced a turnover near the bottom of the left circle. He spun with the puck on his stick and twisted a shot past Brey while falling. The goal marked Ortiz’s team-leading fourth on the season and second of the game. Macon held on to a 4-1 lead for the rest of the game, and secured their second victory of the season.
Entmaa played his best game of the season, denying 35 of Birmingham’s 36 shots. He earned the third star of the game for his efforts. Brey turned aside 33 of 37 and was dealt his first regulation defeat. The Mayhem will head to Peoria to take on the undefeated Rivermen next Friday and Saturday night. Puck drops at 8:15 pm ET.