Photo: Bryan Meeks
The Mayhem were stumped by Joseph Murdaca in Knoxville on Friday night, falling to the Ice Bears by a 2-1 final score.
The game started with a plethora of chances for the Ice Bears. Hayden Stewart fought off an early shot with his pads, and denied Brian Bachnak on a breakaway just moments later. Four minutes into the contest, Ben Campbell inadvertently sent the puck off Stewart’s pads and it bounced straight to Knoxville’s Josh Pietrantonio. The former Mayhem forward buried his opportunity, and gave the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Shortly after a Macon penalty kill had expired, the Ice Bears rushed the puck into the attacking zone. Gehrett Sargis set up Knoxville’s leading scorer, Scott Cuthrell, in the left circle, where he hammered a one-timer past Stewart. The goal doubled up the Ice Bears’ lead heading into the first intermission.
At 8:52 of the second period, Dylan Denomme rolled the puck down the right half wall to Zach Urban. The Macon defenseman centered a pass for Colton Wolter, who jammed the puck past Murdaca to put the Mayhem on the board. Riley Christensen served a tripping penalty almost immediately thereafter, but the Mayhem could not cash in on the ensuing power play.
Denomme then found himself with a pair of point-blank opportunities to tie the score, but he could not solve Murdaca. Another Macon power play materialized at the end of the period, but the Mayhem man-advantage again failed to convert. The visitors trailed by a goal heading into the closing period.
Just 2:57 into the third, Lucas Bombardier lifted the puck across the crease, giving Cuthrell a tremendous chance to net his second goal of the game. However, Stewart robbed him with his glove and kept the Mayhem within one. With less than two minutes remaining, Oscar Arfelt was tripped upon entering Knoxville ice. Danny Cesarz fought Dwyer Tschantz in retaliation, and Cesarz was taken down to the ice by the sizeable forward. The chaos which followed the trip wiped out Macon’s power play, and they could not tie the score in the closing seconds.
Stewart was charged with the loss, stopping 24-of-26 shots against his former team. Murdaca held Macon to just a single goal, denying 28-of-29. The Mayhem will head to Birmingham tomorrow night to take on the Bulls in a crucial game at the Pelham Civic Center.