Photo: Bryan Meeks
After rallying a two-goal comeback against the Huntsville Havoc on Friday night, the Mayhem forced overtime but fell by a 3-2 final score.
Huntsville has made a habit of creating strong starts against the Mayhem at the Centreplex this season, and Friday night was no exception. The visitors scored just 2:21 into the game, converting on a 2-on-1 rush to the Macon goal. Kyle Sharkey buried his 13th goal of the season, finding a loose rebound off Hayden Stewart’s pads.
Ten minutes after the opening goal, the Havoc added an insurance marker. Ryan Verbeek stepped out of a puck scrap from the right corner of the Macon zone and into the slot. He fired a wrist shot and beat Stewart, doubling Huntsville’s lead 12:43 into the first period. The Havoc led 2-0 heading into the first intermission, with a 14-5 advantage in shots on goal.
The Mayhem tipped the scales in period two, threatening Huntsville’s two-goal advantage on multiple occasions. Ben Campbell was denied from point-blank range by Max Milosek, who made a number of quality saves to protect his team’s lead. Stepan Timofeev dropped the gloves with Dave Nippard behind the Havoc net 11:27 into the period, eliciting raucous applause from the crowd.
In the final minute of the middle frame, Milosek came out of his net to play a loose puck on a Macon power play. Caleb Cameron stole the puck from the Huntsville goaltender, and set up Josh Koepplinger in front of the opposing net. He buried his sixth goal of the season before Milosek could reposition himself, bringing the Mayhem within one to close the second period.
Macon kept the pressure on in the closing minutes, buzzing for the tying goal with consistent offensive zone time. Colton Wolter was robbed on a breakaway, Cameron was denied on a 2-on-1, and multiple redirected point shots were stopped by Milosek. However, with just 2:30 remaining, David Powlowski smashed the puck into the net following a goal-mouth scramble, which forced overtime.
Huntsville’s nearly perfect overtime record was improved even further, as the defending champs scored the game-winning goal in sudden death with just 21 seconds remaining. John Schiavo received a centering pass in the slot, and dangled to his backhand to beat Stewart and end the game.
Stewart played exceptionally well in the late stages of the game, stopping 39 of 42 shots but dropping his fourth overtime loss of the season. Milosek earned his league-leading 18th win, stopping 31 of 33. The Mayhem will head to Roanoke tomorrow to face the Rail Yard Dawgs. Puck drops at 7:05 pm ET.