Preview: Mayhem vs. Birmingham Bulls (Game 43)

An Unorthodox Ending
Due to ice issues surfacing in the second intermission of yesterday’s contest, the game was ended early with a shootout taking place after the second period to determine the victor. Though the Mayhem triumphed in the shootout and ultimately came away with two points, neither side felt truly satisfied with the way the game ended.

The Mayhem were all over the Marksmen in the early stages, registering the game’s first five shots on goal and outshooting them 27-14 after two periods of play. They had the majority of the scoring chances, and had the visitors pinned deep in their zone for several stretches during the second period. Remarkably, the game remained scoreless after 40 minutes, with Brody Claeys denying all 27 shots he faced, and Michael Stiliadis turning away all 14. Macon edged its opponents in the shootout, outscoring them 2-1 to win the game.

The Matchup
Tonight will mark the fourth consecutive time in which the Mayhem host a Birmingham Bulls squad which was idle the previous night. This season, Macon has hosted Birmingham on October 26th, November 16th, and December 21st, all Saturday night dates following a Friday in which the Bulls did not have a game. The Mayhem managed to win two out of three of those matchups, but dropped their most recent outing with them on the road.

The Bulls will be well-rested, with tonight being their first game since last Tuesday when they hosted the Pensacola Ice Flyers and won, 3-2 in regulation. Macon, on the other hand, is wrapping up a three-game weekend in which they’ve already faced the first-place Fayetteville Marksmen both on the road and at home. The fatigue factor will certainly favor the visitors tonight, so the Mayhem will need to be smart about preserving their energy and timing their line changes well.

The outcome of this game will have critical implications on the playoff outlook, with both teams tied for the ninth spot in the SPHL standings and urgently fighting for a postseason berth.

A Disciplined Approach
The Mayhem have witnessed a marked decline in their number of penalty minutes as the season has gone on. In the early weeks of the campaign, the Mayhem were neck-and-neck with the Peoria Rivermen at the top of the SPHL in PIMS per game. While Peoria has remained at the top of the league in this category virtually all season (18.20 PIMS/game), the Mayhem have dropped all the way down to seventh, now averaging just 13.62. Ryan Michel has attributed the team’s improved discipline to several factors, including personnel changes and smarter positioning on the ice. Either way, Macon’s penalty kill (83.1%) has reaped positive effects as a result, which will bode well for the Mayhem in their playoff push.

Pucks N’ Paws
Tonight will be the team’s annual Pucks N’ Paws Night. All dogs are welcome at the Macon Centreplex for this game, and registration for our wiener dog races is available by clicking here. The wiener dog races will take place during the first intermission of tonight’s game. Fans who bring wiener dogs are asked to check them in at the table at the bottom of Section 24. All participants must be checked in prior to the 8-minute mark of the first period. Each racer must be accompanied by two humans. The fastest three dogs from each heat will earn a spot in the final race, where the top three finalists will receive prizes from Noah’s Ark Pets & Grooming.