Preview: Mayhem vs. Evansville Thunderbolts (Game 12)

A Debut to Remember
The Mayhem looked razor-sharp in Ryan Michel’s head-coaching debut last night. The passing was crisp, the goaltending was solid, the team capitalized on its scoring chances, and the special teams were strong throughout the tilt. The penalty kill had its best game of the season, killing 7-of-7 shorthanded opportunities. Though the power play did not officially convert, the man-advantage created momentum and led to a goal just three seconds after an Evansville penalty expired.

Michel is off to a good start behind the bench as Macon’s Interim Head Coach. He clearly has the team behind him and is in a position to secure another enormous two points tonight. However, the 27-year-old will be faced with a number of challenges this evening with the visiting Thunderbolts looking to split the series and spoil Mossy Oak Night.

The Matchup
Zach Urban’s departure to the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings left the Mayhem shorthanded on the blue line last night. The team’s remaining five defensemen now all shoot left, and Ryan Devine was suspended for tonight’s game due to a spearing incident. Moreover, Shawn Lynch was shaken up last night after slamming into the end boards at nearly full speed, and Jimmy Soper has still not returned from Ontario due to family reasons.

While certainly banged up, the Mayhem do have the head-to-head series in their favor. They have historically been dominant against the Thunderbolts at the Macon Centreplex, amassing a 6-1-1 all-time record on home ice. Being as shorthanded as they are, the Mayhem will need to keep their composure against the most disciplined team in the SPHL tonight.

Game of Firsts
Three different players on the Mayhem scored their first goal of the season last night, setting the stage for what could be a case of the floodgates opening. Shawn Lynch, Stephen Pierog and Josh Koepplinger all tallied a “monkey off the back” goal, which was long overdue for all three of them.

Lynch played ten games for the Mayhem late last season, including playoffs. He was in his 19th overall game with the organization last night and buried his first professional goal just 16 seconds into his cousin’s head-coaching tenure. It was a particularly special moment for him, and it prefaced a night in which he had a far more distinguished role with the team. Pierog had been snake-bitten in the goal-scoring department, notching nine assists before finding the net this season. His goal came immediately after a Macon power play, and Koepplinger’s came just 18 seconds after Evansville’s first goal of the game.

Mossy Oak Night
Tonight is Mossy Oak Night at the Macon Centreplex, presented by Tommy’s Bakery & Café. The team is offering three free chuck-a-pucks to anyone who wears camouflage to the game. The Mossy Oak jerseys worn by the players throughout the night will be sold in the Centreplex lobby at a live auction following tonight’s game. The last remaining November home game will be W.W.E. Night (11/30). For tickets to any of November’s home games, click here.