Preview: Mayhem vs. Evansville Thunderbolts (Game 11)

An Emotional Defeat
Last Saturday’s home loss was a bitter pill to swallow. The Mayhem competed valiantly all night and were seemingly in an uphill battle with puck luck at times, with several close calls not swinging in Macon’s favor against the Birmingham Bulls. Many Mayhem players were emotional getting off the ice, knowing the defeat could have serious ramifications for the team. As it happened, the team switched bench bosses early this week.

Ryan Michel has been promoted to Interim Head Coach for the first time in his young career. The Hobart College graduate was one of the best defensemen in Mayhem franchise history. During the team’s championship season, Michel led the team in +/- with a +18 rating and led all blue-liners in scoring with 14 points. He is known for his high hockey IQ and his analytical approach to the game. Through a handful of practice sessions this week, the team has fully rallied behind the new Head Coach and are backing him with the utmost confidence.

The Matchup
The Mayhem square off against the Evansville Thunderbolts for the first time this season. While the Bolts struggled greatly during the 2018-19 campaign, they have already shown substantial improvement through ten games this season under new Head Coach Jeff Bes. Evansville enters tonight’s contest a point ahead of Macon with a 3-6-1 record, having just broken the Peoria Rivermen’s perfect season last Friday night in a shootout.

Evansville has had difficulty on the road of late, dropping their last three away tilts in regulation. However, this much-improved squad is hungry for points and will be looking to capitalize on Macon’s recent troubles. Last season, Macon managed a 3-0-0 record against Evansville during the regular season. Tonight, a young and disciplined Thunderbolts team led by a handful of veterans—including a former Mayhem sniper—will seek its redemption.

Derek Sutliffe Returns
Former Mayhem sharpshooter Derek Sutliffe will make his return to the Macon Centreplex for the first time since April. The Las Vegas, NV native is an SPHL veteran now in his fourth professional season and first with Evansville. He ranked second on the Mayhem in goals last year with 21 in 55 games played, trailing only Jake Trask in the goal-scoring department.

Sutliffe (27) has suited up for all ten of the Thunderbolts’ games this season and has tallied four points (2G, 2A) in the process. He is one of the squad’s most seasoned players and he leads the team with 27 shots on goal, automatically marking #19 as a player to watch this weekend for the Mayhem.

Country Night
Tonight is Country Night at the Macon Centreplex. Country music, including some Macon-made music, will be played throughout the night and the team is offering three free chuck-a-pucks to anyone who wears a cowboy hat to the game. Tonight also marks the first instance in which the team is wearing specialty jerseys. The jerseys worn by the players throughout the weekend will be sold in the Centreplex lobby at a live auction following Saturday night’s game. Remaining November home games include Mossy Oak Night (11/23) and W.W.E. Night (11/30). For tickets to any of November’s home games, click here.