Game Day Notes: Macon @ Birmingham (Game #9, Road Game #5)

LAST GAME’S ACTION: Saturday’s home game against the Birmingham Bulls was reminiscent of the game the two teams played in Macon five weeks prior: a scoreless two periods, followed by both teams breaking through in the final stanza. The Bulls notched a power play goal in the first minute of the third period, but Paul Meyer tied things up just before the five-minute mark of the period to push the game to overtime. Max Cook scored with just 45 seconds left in the extra period to give Macon the extra standing point. Jake Theut made 25 saves on 26 shots for the victory, while Hayden Stewart turned aside 30 of 32 shots on goal in net for Birmingham. Both teams had three power play opportunities with the Bulls making good on one and the Mayhem failing to convert.

BATTLE FOR THIRD: Despite every other team in the SPHL having played at least three more games than Macon, the Mayhem find themselves tied with Birmingham for third place in the SPHL standings heading into tonight’s game. Macon’s .750 winning percentage is actually tops in the league with a 5-1-2 record after eight games played. The winner of tonight’s game will be in sole possession of third place, although the Mayhem will still have five games in hand on the Bulls.

D TO E: The Mayhem have seen a few roster moves on defense over the past week, with a couple of blueliners heading to help out teams in the ECHL. Both Darren Brady (Rapid City) and Derek Topatigh (Wheeling) have been loaned to ECHL clubs this week, while defenseman Paul Meyer returned from his tour of duty with South Carolina in the ECHL. To help bolster the defensive core, the Mayhem also signed defenseman Matt Stief to a contract. Stief logged an assist in his first pro game Saturday at home against Birmingham. Macon also re-signed defenseman Joe Colatarci, who began the season with the team, to a tryout agreement. He had previously played three games for the Mayhem but had not logged a point in any of them.

HOME “COOK”-ING FOR VETS: Veteran forward Max Cook scored his first points for Macon over the past weekend at home, scoring once each on Friday and Saturday night. He logged the overtime game-winner in the final minute in Saturday’s win over the Bulls. Cook is coming off his best pro season last year as he scored 53 points (15G, 38A) in 45 games in Fayetteville before the season was shut down due to COVID-19. Fellow veteran forward Mason Baptista also enjoyed success on home ice with a three-point night Friday off a pair of goals and an assist.

INSIDE THE BULLS: Birmingham had the opposite experience as the Mayhem last weekend, being on the wrong side of a game in which the opposition scored seven goals and also dropping a close one in overtime. The OT loss came Saturday in Macon, of course, while the Bulls fell 7-0 to Huntsville on Friday night at home, with six of the Havoc’s goals coming in the first 15:27 of the game. After Hayden Stewart gave up the first four goals of the game in just 4:23, Austyn Roudebush came in to stop the bleeding, allowing three goals the rest of the way. Roudebush began his career last season in the Federal Hockey League with Mentor before landing in the SPHL with Roanoke. He had impressive stats with the Rail Yard Dawgs, going 5-2-2 in 13 games played with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. The Bulls are looking to find their mojo again: after a huge 8-7 comeback win at home over Huntsville on Jan. 22 in a game that saw them trail 5-1 early in the second period, Birmingham has gone 1-4-1 since and has been outscored 22-13 during that stretch.