Preview: Mayhem vs. Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs (Game 19)

A Diverse Sweep
Last weekend was a resounding success for the Mayhem. They earned their first sweep of the season, first shutout of the season, won both games in regulation to prevent their opponents from gaining ground in the standings, jumped two spots as a result, and scored the Teddy Bear Toss goal just minutes before a mandatory throwing would have been announced.

Friday night was a wild, back-and-forth affair in which the Mayhem erased three deficits and tallied four goals in the third period to skate away with a thrilling 5-4 victory. On Saturday, Macon clogged the neutral zone and forced the Quad City Storm to dump the puck. Taking the visitors’ game away from them, the Mayhem hunkered down defensively and scraped together a 1-0 shutout. Ryan Michel described Friday night’s game as the more impressive win, but noted that he prefers the way the team played Saturday as a long-term strategy. Regardless, the Mayhem showed they can win games multiple ways, which bodes well for the outlook on the team going forward.

The Matchup
The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs are coming off an impressive season in which they eliminated the top-seeded Peoria Rivermen in the first round of the President’s Cup Playoffs. The 2019-20 campaign has not gone according to plan for them, however, as they sit two points behind the Mayhem in the SPHL standings with a game in hand. The Dawgs have been remarkably strong on the power play, clicking at an impressive 24.1% rate (second, SPHL). They have been solid on the penalty kill, as well, at 82.2%. The greater struggle has been play at 5-on-5, which has been Macon’s strength.

Roanoke got off to an extremely slow start to the season. Defeating the Mayhem in a shootout back on October 25th was the team’s only victory through the first 12 games of their season. However, they have won three of their last five since, including impressive wins over hot teams like Knoxville and Fayetteville. Adding players like Bobby Watson, Kyle Gonzalez and Nikolas Kalpouzos in late November has greatly helped the Dawgs to turn things around.

A Shorthanded Crew
The Mayhem have suddenly found themselves in a bit of injury trouble heading into tonight’s game. Caleb Cameron (lower-body) was placed on the 21-day injured reserve yesterday, and former Rail Yard Dawgs defenseman Vojtech Zemlicka (upper-body) has been ruled out for tonight’s game against his old team. Lines will surely be shuffled around and adjusted in light of the news, but the Mayhem will have no choice but to play a man short tonight. It will be a 17-man crew this evening, with 10 forwards, 5 defensemen and 2 goaltenders dressing for the game. Meanwhile, Mayhem forward Daniel Perez is expected to return from family leave shortly after Christmas.

Mac’s 5th Birthday Party/Faith & Family Night
This weekend marks Macon’s final home games of 2019. Tonight, Mac celebrates his 5th birthday party at the Macon Centreplex. Nine of Mac’s friends have been invited to the game to join in the celebration. Tomorrow is Faith & Family Night; members of all faiths are invited to join the Mayhem in their last home game of 2019. For tickets, click here.