LAST GAME’S ACTION: Jake Theut’s first professional shutout and Mason Baptista’s two goals helped propel Macon over the Ice Flyers 5-0 on Friday night in Pensacola. Ryan Smith chipped in with his second goal in as many nights, Stathis Soumelidis scored his first goal of the season, and Ray Brice notched his first pro goal as part of a four-goal third period barrage to win going away. Theut stopped all 31 Pensacola shots on goal he faced, while Ice Flyers netminder Chase Perry had an uncharacteristic night in goal, allowing five Macon goals on just 22 Mayhem shots on goal. The Mayhem finished 1 for 3 on the power play and stymied all four of Pensacola’s chances with the man advantage.
BETHUNE TO ALLEN, WELCOME ROMANO: The Mayhem made a roster move just prior to their game Friday night as forward Jared Bethune was loaned to the ECHL’s Allen Americans, the team in which he started the season in camp. To take his place on the roster, Macon signed forward Anthony Romano to a contract. Romano had already seen SPHL action this year, playing 11 games for Huntsville while logging three goals and two assists. The pickup paid instant dividends for the Mayhem as Romano scored a point in his first game in a Macon sweater, notching an assist in Friday’s win.
SPECIAL TEAMS BECOMING SPECIAL AGAIN: Macon’s penalty kill has been at or near the top of the league all year, but the power play had been on a slump to begin the season. With two power play goals in their last four games, the unit has climbed out of the SPHL basement, now working at a league fourth-best 12.5% clip (three power play goals in 24 chances). Macon has allowed only two goals in 29 shorthanded opportunities, good for a second-best 93.1% success rate. Ironically, the team with the best PK, Knoxville, has the worst power play in the league. The Ice Bears have allowed just two power play goals in 31 opportunities (93.5%) but are 4 for 34 with the man advantage (11.8%).
GEORGIA ON OUR MINDS: After today’s game, the Mayhem will visit Pensacola again on Friday night before playing six of their next seven games inside the friendly confines of the Macon Centreplex. The lone road game in that stretch is a visit to Huntsville on February 26, the first time the Mayhem will visit the Von Braun Center since a season-opening 2-1 win back on December 28. The six-game home stretch consists of two games each against Knoxville (Feb. 20-21), Huntsville (Feb. 25 and Mar. 6), and Pensacola (Mar. 2 and 5).
INSIDE THE ICE FLYERS: While the Mayhem rested in Pensacola Saturday, the Ice Flyers made a day trip to Huntsville to take on the Havoc. They returned to their winning ways and sole possession of first place in the SPHL standings with a 4-3 win. Jack Berry picked up the victory in his first professional game after a four-year career in the NCAA with the University of Wisconsin. Expect teammate Chase Perry (yes, Perry & Berry is the Pensacola goaltending tandem) to be in net with revenge on his mind after Macon put five past him in Friday night’s win. Despite the loss, Perry is still second in the SPHL with a 2.51 GAA but a little over a full goal behind the Mayhem’s Jake Theut (1.47) for the league lead. Theut’s .941 save percentage on the season to date is also far and away tops in the league – Perry’s .905 is good for fourth-best in the SPHL, and no other goaltender besides Theut has a percentage above .909. Also look for forward Eddie Matsushima to break out of his slump at any time for the Ice Flyers. After scoring at least a point in each of his first seven games, he has been kept off the scoresheet in the last three games and four of his last five. Despite the setback, his 15 points on the year (5G, 10A) are still good for a second-place tie among all league players and one point behind Huntsville’s Rob Darrar’s 16-point output to date.