Hot Start Not Enough, Mayhem Drop Close Decision

Another quick start was not enough to propel the Mayhem to victory on Saturday afternoon, as they fell to the Huntsville Havoc by a 4-3 final score.

For the third consecutive day, the Mayhem took the lead very quickly into the contest. Stephen Pierog burst into the Huntsville zone with speed down the left wing. He ripped a shot from the left circle to cleanly beat Max Milosek, netting his fifth goal of the season and giving the Mayhem a 1-0 advantage just 3:10 into the tilt. Larry Smith and Josh Koepplinger each came close to building upon Macon’s lead, but were denied by the post and by Milosek, respectively.

Huntsville roared back, scoring twice on just four shots on goal in the first period. Sy Nutkevitch hammered a hard shot from the bottom of the left circle from a difficult angle, but managed to sneak the puck over Kevin Entmaa’s shoulder to equalize the game. Then, with only 26 seconds remaining in the opening stanza, Phil Johansson took a wrist shot from the blue line which ricocheted onto the tape of Scott Trask. Trask was parked right beside Entmaa’s net, and quickly backhanded the puck by Entmaa before the Macon net-minder could react to the deflection. The Havoc entered the first intermission leading 2-1, despite being heavily outshot by the Mayhem, 13-5.

Early in the second period, the Mayhem jumped on the puck in the neutral zone following a defensive zone faceoff. Stepan Timofeev chipped the puck to himself off the right side wall, and set up Stathis Soumelidis uncontested in the slot. The veteran forward capitalized, tying the game 2-2 just 4:29 into the second.
The Havoc again refused to allow the game to stay tied for long. Nutkevitch registered his second assist of the game 12:06 into the second, sliding a cross-ice pass to defenseman Pat Condon above the right circle. Condon flung a wrist shot through traffic, which was redirected by Havoc veteran Kyle Sharkey to regain Huntsville’s lead 3-2. Entmaa made a timely save on a partial breakaway by Tyler Piacentini in the closing seconds of the middle frame.

Macon fought off a pair of penalty kills at the start of period three, which were the first two penalties called the entire game. However, after going onto a power play of their own, they conceded their first multi-goal deficit of the night. Nutkevitch raced into the Macon zone on a shorthanded rush, and dropped the puck into the mid-slot for a one-timer from Phil Johansson. His blast eluded Entmaa, and gave the home side a 4-2 advantage. A late goal scored by Pierog would not be enough to overcome the deficit, and the Havoc held on for a 4-3 victory.

Entmaa was charged with his tenth regulation defeat of the season, stopping 26 of the 30 shots he faced. Milosek earned his league-leading 12th victory, turning aside 30 of 33. The Mayhem will return to the Macon Centreplex on Friday, January 3rd against the Ice Flyers on Fan Control Night. For tickets, click here.