Photo: Bryan Meeks
In Ryan Michel’s head-coaching debut, the Mayhem skated to a 4-2 victory on Country Night to snap a six-game regulation losing skid.
Country Night started out with a bang for the Mayhem, as Larry Smith held a clearing attempt at the blue line and set up Shawn Lynch with a point-blank opportunity. Lynch fired the puck inside the left post, beating Parker Gahagen to score his first goal with the Mayhem just 16 seconds into the contest. Stephen Pierog added his first goal of the season 11:55 into the game, ripping a shot from the right circle which fluttered off the glove and Gahagen and into the back of the net. The goal came just seconds after Macon’s first power play had expired.
Ryan Devine found himself in penalty trouble as the first period wore on. He was given back-to-back roughing minors, and fought against Hayden Hulton in the final minute of the opening stanza. Devine landed a number of uppercuts with his left hand before bringing Hulton down to the ice, and skated down the Macon tunnel with the Coliseum in a supportive uproar.
Evansville struck quickly to begin period two, snapping Kevin Entmaa’s shutout streak just 2:46 into the middle stanza. Thunderbolts leading scorer Austin Plevy redirected a point shot taken from Kenton Helgeson from the left point immediately following a faceoff. Just 18 seconds later, Josh Koepplinger ripped a shot from the left circle past Gahagen for his first goal of the season, immediately turning the momentum back into Macon’s favor.
Ten minutes later, Pierog stole the puck in the high slot of the Mayhem zone. He sprung Josh Cousineau on an uncontested breakaway from center ice in. The SPHL veteran slid the puck through Gahagen’s five-hole to match Macon’s largest lead of the season. The Mayhem led 4-1 heading into the second intermission.
The visitors slipped a score past Entmaa early in the closing period, with Jacob Smith tapping the puck into an open net out of a goal-mouth scramble. The goal brought Evansville within a pair, but their comeback attempt was too little, too late. The Mayhem fought maintained their strong penalty killing, fighting off all seven shorthanded opportunities they faced.
Entmaa denied 37 of Evansville’s 39 shots, earning his third win of the season and second star of the game recognition in the process. Gahagen was handed the regulation loss, stopping 27 of 31. The Mayhem will close the series with the Thunderbolts tomorrow night on Mossy Oak Night at the Macon Centreplex. Puck drops at 7:00 pm ET.