Photo: Bryan Meeks
Early in the game, in front of their largest crowd in franchise history, the Mayhem routed the Knoxville Ice Bears with a 6-2 victory on Nickelodeon Night.
Josh Koepplinger received a pass at the Knoxville blue line from David Powlowski in the neutral zone and jolted in the Knoxville zone with a burst of speed. He beat Ice Bears goaltender Joseph Murdaca with a forehand shot, electrifying the 5,619 at the Macon Centreplex. Knoxville retaliated with a tap-in goal from Bryce Nielsen at 5:54, leveling the score at a goal apiece.
Halfway through the opening period, Colton Wolter raced down the left wing and fired a shot off the left elbow of the net. It ricocheted off the backboards and landed near the goal line, giving Wolter enough time to jam it past Murdaca before he could get back into position. Wolter’s goal was quickly answered just 1:07 later, when Scott Cuthrell found Gehrett Sargis wide open to the left of Hayden Stewart. Sargis’ strike temporarily silenced the enthusiastic Macon crowd, but a power play bomb from Zach Urban 15:59 into the period re-gained the Mayhem’s advantage. They entered the middle frame with a 3-2 lead.
Dylan Denomme built upon Macon’s lead in the second period. He received a pass in the right circle of the Knoxville zone, and roofed a wrist shot over Murdaca’s shoulder. The goal was Denomme’s second of the weekend, and gave Macon a 4-2 lead. Murdaca was consequently pulled in favor of Cody Porter. The Mayhem fought off back-to-back Ice Bears power plays, and began the third period with a 4-2 advantage.
At 11:52 of the closing period, Stepan Timofeev shoveled a pass into the slot from the right corner of the Knoxville zone. Wolter, who had been parked in front of Porter, fired a backhand shot over his glove to give the Mayhem a 5-2 lead. He buried an empty-net goal at the end, finishing off a pass from Shawn Lynch to complete the hat trick. It would be Macon’s first hat trick in over a year, since Alexander Taulien scored three goals in Evansville against the Thunderbolts on January 19th of 2019.
Stewart earned third star of the game recognition for his efforts in goal. The Macon net-minder stopped an impressive 26 of the 28 shots he faced. The Mayhem will host the Huntsville Havoc next Friday, February 7th on Mardi Gras Night. It will also be a Family 4-Pack Night, which includes four tickets and a $30 gift card to Texas Roadhouse for $50. For ticket information, click here.