Knoxville, TN – After a diligent week of work in training camp, the Mayhem headed north on I-75 to take on the Knoxville Ice Bears for the opening night of the Southern Professional Hockey League season. With a brand-new team and coaching staff, the Mayhem were eager to get their first win under their belt in the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.
With it being the first game many of these players have seen since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first period began with both teams playing apprehensively as they regained their bearings on the ice. However, that wouldn’t last long as Mayhem goaltender Dillon Kelley soon found himself turning away a flurry of shots.
The Mayhem would suffer a quick strike from Knoxville’s Stefan Brucato just 32 seconds into the second frame. After Macon’s Devin Brink was handed a match penalty for an illegal check to the head, the Mayhem’s penalty kill unit emerged for the first time on the young season and would get to put themselves to the test for an extended stay on the ice. The unit held firm and even found an equalizer. The short-handed goal from the Mayhem’s Don Carter Jr. was his first professional goal, and it came at the end of some beautiful stickwork at the end of a breakaway. The Mayhem and Ice Bears would head back to the locker rooms at a dead-lock of 1-1.
The third period would continue with that same deadlock as teams traded opportunities as the two netminders stifled any offense that was generated. Finally in front of a crowd of 3,600 of Knoxville’s rowdiest fans, Michael Mecurio, a signee from Knoxville’s free agent camp who earned a PTO, delivered the death blow with a rocket by Kelley. Two minutes later, Colin Cowlthorp scored an insurance goal for the Ice Bears.
The Mayhem continued to fight throughout the third but couldn’t find any more offense to cut Knoxville’s lead. The Macon Mayhem would fall 3-1 on opening night despite a stellar night of work from Dillon Kelley as he turned away 37 shots.
As Mayhem Head Coach Zac Desjardins said after training camp, “The trophy isn’t handed out on the first night.” The Mayhem’s young core will take this experience and go to work building on it before next weekend’s slate against the Rivermen in Peoria, Illinois.
The Mayhem will take home ice for the first time on October 29th with a matchup against the Fayetteville Marksmen. Tickets are still available at ticketmaster.com.