Preview: Mayhem vs. Knoxville Ice Bears (Game 47)

Mayhem Playoff Hopes Take Favorable Turn
After securing a convincing 4-0 victory in a critical matchup with the Birmingham Bulls on Leap Day, the Mayhem did not have an opportunity to build on the momentum. Their triumph in Pelham significantly improved their playoff chances, but all the team could do was sit and watch from home last weekend as their rivals ferociously battled for the scarce points remaining in the race to the postseason.

Coach Ryan Michel and his idle team understood that they were inevitably going to fall some points behind their competitors last weekend. Quad City, Roanoke, and Birmingham all had three-game weekends, with many of those matchups being against each other. This being considered, things shook out fairly well for the Mayhem, who remain within just three points of all of them and two points outside of a playoff spot. Quad City took three points out of six, Roanoke took four, and Birmingham took two.

All in all, the damage done was not insurmountable in the slightest. In terms of remaining points available, the Mayhem are finally on a level playing field with every other team in the SPHL besides Quad City. Their hopes to make the playoffs are still very much alive, but they will likely need to win a majority of their remaining ten games in order to qualify.

The Matchup
Tonight marks the fifth and final time the Mayhem play the Knoxville Ice Bears this season. Their only victory against Knoxville came on Pack the Plex Night on February 1st, the last time the Ice Bears paid a visit to Macon. During this game, the Mayhem thrived under their largest crowd in franchise history (5,619) and throttled the Ice Bears, 6-2. However, Jeff Carr’s squad responded a week and a half ago with a home victory of their own, edging Macon by a 2-1 score in regulation.

Games against the Ice Bears are always circled on the calendar for much of Macon’s roster considering the number of former players involved. Ben Campbell, Josh Cousineau, Cooper Jones, Hayden Stewart and Eric Ylitalo all have Knoxville ties, and often have an extra jump in their step during these matchups. Both of these teams are well rested, having not played a game since February 29th. Moreover, the Ice Bears are in a tight race of their own, competing with Huntsville, Pensacola and Evansville for the 3-6 spots. All of them are within two points of each other, with the seeding implicating home-ice advantage and a more favorable matchup in the playoffs. Expect a fierce contest tonight at the Macon Centreplex.

Kacerosky to Debut
The SPHL trade deadline on March 2nd was very quiet; with only a handful of transactions taking place around the league. Macon was one of just three teams to receive a player via trade, acquiring defenseman Sean Kacerosky from the Quad City Storm. Coach Michel used his future considerations from the Dakota Klecha trade last summer to bring in the blue-liner, who is expected to make his Mayhem debut this evening wearing the number 4. Kacerosky has been described as a reliable defender who skates well and has a hard shot. Injuries have been an unfortunate blight on his second pro season, but the New Jersey native has been a dependable player when healthy and promises to be a positive asset for the Mayhem in the home stretch.

Fan Appreciation Night
Tonight’s promotion is Fan Appreciation Night; the first 50 fans through the front doors will receive a free Mayhem water bottle. Additionally, all tickets will be just $10/person and are available at the Macon Centreplex, as well as Ticketmaster. WWE superstar Luke Gallows will be on the Macon bench as an assistant coach, and will be partaking in musical chairs during the first intermission and signing autographs throughout the night. To purchase tickets for tonight, visit the box office or click here.