Preview: Mayhem vs. Birmingham Bulls (Game 20)

A Shootout Shutout
Kevin Entmaa was again spectacular for the Mayhem last night, particularly in the shootout. Though three goals were allowed in regulation, Macon’s star goaltender slammed the door shut in extra time. He denied all seven shots in the skills competition, giving his team every opportunity to win the game and secure an invaluable two points.

Shootouts have tormented the Mayhem in recent years. They had lost five consecutive prior to last night, dating all the way back to April 1st of 2017. Last season, the Mayhem were 0-3 in the shootout, with their shooters converting on just 1-of-15 shots. Last night was a rare instance in which a lineup reset was allowed, as neither team had scored through the first five rounds. Danny Cesarz was selected by Ryan Michel as the first player to shoot twice for Macon, and the SPHL veteran capitalized on his opportunity. Entmaa followed Cesarz’s shootout goal with a save on Roanoke’s top scorer Jeff Jones, giving the Mayhem their third straight victory.

The Matchup
This is the third consecutive instance of the Birmingham Bulls coming to the Macon Centreplex on a Saturday after having Friday night off. In the first game, Macon took advantage of Birmingham’s rust and skated away with a 4-1 victory. Coach Michel noted that the Mayhem were extremely assertive in that game, winning most of the small battles and hounding pucks in all three zones. Game two, however, did not go as well for the Mayhem, as the Bulls evened the season series and came away with a 5-3 decision.

Birmingham has struggled in the month of December, dropping five straight games including a shootout loss six days ago in Pelham against the Quad City Storm. With the Storm winning last night, as well, the Mayhem remain in the ninth spot in the SPHL standings. However, if they defeat Birmingham in regulation tonight and if Quad City loses, the Mayhem will jump from ninth to seventh in a single day. It will be another grind at the Macon Centreplex this evening, with both teams jostling for two very meaningful points.

Relief from the Bull-Pen
Former Bulls forward Josh Pietrantonio will suit up for the Mayhem tonight. In light of the recent injuries which have plagued the team, Coach Michel has called upon his services from the Carolina Thunderbirds of the FPHL, where Pietrantonio served as the Captain for the 2018-19 season. He had a strong campaign in Winston-Salem last year, leading the team in scoring with 83 points (27G, 56A) in 54 games played. The Hamilton, ON native played in three games this season for the Bulls, including this past Sunday’s tilt against the Storm. Pietrantonio (6’2, 190) will likely line up as a depth forward on the wing tonight for the Mayhem, and is expected to sport the #92.
Faith & Family Night
Tonight marks Macon’s final home game of 2019. It is Faith & Family Night; members of all faiths are invited to join the Mayhem as they close out their five-game home stand heading into the Christmas break. For tickets, click here.