Pierog, Ylitalo Propel Mayhem to Decisive Triumph

Playing their final game against the Knoxville Ice Bears this season, the Mayhem seized control in the second half of the contest and skated to a 5-3 victory on Fan Appreciation Night.
Four seconds into the game, Dylan Denomme and Dwyer Tschantz engaged in a planned fight. It was a long, spirited bout, but Denomme eventually got the better of his 6’6, 220 pound counterpart. He fired several uppercuts before hauling him to the ice and drawing a raucous round of applause.
Despite facing an early flurry of chances in their own zone, the Mayhem drew first blood in the game. Josh Koepplinger blocked a Knoxville clearing attempt following back-to-back icing calls, and fired a wrist shot from the slot over the glove of Joseph Murdaca to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. Macon’s advantage did not last long. Just 1:08 afterward, Stefan Brucato slid a pass to Scott Cuthrell in the slot on a Knoxville power play. The Ice Bears’ leading scorer hammered a one-timer over the blocker of Michael Stiliadis, equalizing the game with his 50th point on the season. The goal ended Macon’s penalty kill streak of 14.
Knoxville gained its first lead of the game 5:15 into the second period, when Bryce Nielsen motored down the right wing on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush. Nielsen rifled a shot from the right circle off the inside off the right elbow of the net, beating Stiliadis over the glove.
The Ice Bears’ lead lasted for 10 minutes and 38 seconds as Macon’s power play came through on its third attempt. Eric Ylitalo slipped the puck across the offensive zone from circle-to-circle, setting up Stephen Pierog on the left side. The Macon Captain fired the puck at the net, leading to a rebound chance for Caleb Cameron. Cameron jammed it across the goal line for his ninth goal of the season. Colton Wolter pulled Macon back in front less than three minutes later, redirecting a point shot taken by Ben Campbell past Murdaca and into the net. The goal marked his team-leading 20th of the season.
Pierog commandeered the team’s offense in the closing period, scoring a pair of goals to give the Mayhem a 5-2 advantage. He buried a shot from behind the goal line off the back of Murdaca’s leg, and sniped another goal over Murdaca’s glove just 3:41 later. Knoxville Head Coach Jeff Carr pulled his goaltender extremely early, giving his team ample time with the extra skater. The decision helped the Ice Bears cut into the deficit, as Gehrett Sargis ripped a shot from the slot by Stiliadis to bring the visitors within two. However, the comeback effort was too little, too late, and the Mayhem held on for a 5-3 victory.
Stiliadis earned his fourth victory of the season, stopping 31 of Knoxville’s 33 shots on goal. Murdaca was charged with his eighth defeat, denying 19 of 24. The Mayhem will commence a five-game road stretch this Friday night in Huntsville against the Havoc. Puck drops at 8:00 pm ET at the Von Braun Center.