Preview: Mayhem @ Knoxville Ice Bears (Game 24)

Disappointment in Huntsville
Another promising start was in order for the Mayhem on Saturday afternoon, but it was again not enough to propel the team to victory. The Mayhem outshot the Havoc 13-5 in the opening period, but were stymied by shots hitting posts and by outstanding saves made by Max Milosek. The Huntsville net-minder made several crucial saves early in the game, which allowed the Havoc to stay close on the scoreboard and ultimately tip the scales.

Stephen Pierog had a strong game, scoring twice and bringing his team within striking distance in the final 70 seconds of regulation. The Macon Captain reclaimed his spot as the team’s top scorer, and led the Mayhem to a comeback attempt in a game through which the breaks were not in their favor. Tonight’s outing in Knoxville offers the Mayhem one last chance to recover points from a daunting road stretch which has not yielded positive results thus far.

The Matchup
For the first time since the 2019 playoffs, the Mayhem head to the Knoxville Civic Auditorium. The Ice Bears got off to a tremendous start this season, winning nine of their first twelve games after improving their scoring depth and their power play. Much like last season, their penalty kill has again been among the best in the SPHL. However, Knoxville finds itself on a slump similar to Macon’s at the moment.

The Ice Bears are on their longest losing skid of the season, having dropped three straight on the same dates of the Mayhem’s three-game road trip. They have severely struggled to keep the puck out of their own net, allowing 18 goals over that three-day span. As such, the Ice Bears have slipped in the standings and are now fifth in the SPHL. Both Macon and Knoxville are eager to snap a three-game losing skid with a rare mid-week opportunity, and will both be dead-set on ending the decade on a high note.

Lightning-Like Starts
Perhaps the biggest head-scratcher from Macon’s disappointing road trip is the fact that they jumped out to such terrific starts three days in a row. In their three-game road trip, the Mayhem netted the first goal 1:16, 8:42, and 3:10 into the contests. Not only have the Mayhem been outscoring teams in the opening minutes of recent games, they’ve been heavily outplaying and outshooting them.

As promising as Macon’s quick starts have been, it is worth noting that maintaining leads has been an issue. Last season, when scoring the first goal, the Mayhem boasted an impressive 19-7-1 record. This season, they are a mere 4-5-1 when drawing first blood. Third periods have consistently been the most damaging in terms of goals allowed, but this will likely improve with conditioning and the building of team chemistry.
Fan Control Night
The Mayhem’s next home game will be on Friday, January 3rd against the Pensacola Ice Flyers. It will be Fan Control Night at the Macon Centreplex; polls are being run on social media for fans to decide things like music, intermission games, jerseys worn during the game, and more! For tickets, click here.