2018-19 Season Preview
A long, hot summer has come to an end in Macon, prompting the return of the frozen sport to the Heart of Georgia.
On April 20th, 2018, the Macon Mayhem's defense of the President's Cup came to a bitter end at the Macon Centreplex. They were narrowly defeated by the Huntsville Havoc in a decisive 3-2 result, which ended the Mayhem's season and removed their title as the defending champions of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The seemingly endless offseason which followed has all but concluded, and while it taunted players and fans alike for months, it served an incredibly critical purpose for the Mayhem. Restructuring had to be done at all levels of the organization, with a number of important staff members and players moving on to new opportunities. A new coaching staff, a new General Manager, and a collection of new players have now formed an alliance with the several returning veterans on the roster. Together, they are fixated on preparing for October 19th, 2018, when a new campaign will begin 183 days after the last one ended.
Kevin Kerr, who had been the Head Coach and General Manager of the Mayhem since the team's inaugural season, has moved on to coach the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the East Coast Hockey League. His departure after three seasons left a daunting abyss at the apex of the franchise, but it was promptly addressed with the promoting of two eager and capable individuals who had both been with the Mayhem for years.
Leo Thomas had served under Kerr for two seasons as an Assistant Coach, helping to lead Macon to its first-ever championship in his first year behind the bench. The Toronto, ON native has been an integral part of two highly successful campaigns, and is very familiar with the bulk of the players expected to compose the upcoming roster. While he played a key role in the team's successes in the Kerr era, Thomas looks forward to bringing his own flavor to the table for 2018-19.
"Taking over this special group means a lot to me," Thomas said. "The past two years have been amazing and I'm excited for this opportunity to coach these guys and get going. To be honest, I don't think I will need to change a lot with systems aside from a few tweaks, but we've taken pride in being a hardworking, in-your-face type of team that is strong defensively, and we will continue to be this season."
One of the first items on the agenda was selecting a new Assistant Coach to fill the vacancy, so one of Thomas' first moves as Head Coach was to hire a sidekick behind the bench. A former forward, Thomas decided to bring aboard a former blue-liner- one of the best defensemen to ever don the Mayhem uniform.
A member of the championship-winning Mayhem from 2016-17, Ryan Michel has become the first former Mayhem player to be named to the coaching staff. He led all defensemen on the team in scoring both seasons he played in Macon from 2015-17, and he retired a champion before making his coaching debut with a Division III college program in New York last season. The 26-year-old got the exciting phone call in June, and was elated to return to his professional roots.
"I'm thrilled to be back, I've always considered Macon to be my second home and am looking forward to getting the season underway," Michel said. "Coaching professionals and former teammates provides a unique challenge which I am very excited to undertake."
Not only has there been a substantial overhaul on the hockey operations front, but with the front office, as well. With Kerr's promotion to the ECHL, the team needed a new General Manager. Given his extensive background in client relations combined with his hockey knowledge, it was quite clear that the job would go to Assistant General Manager Blair Floyd. Floyd had been with the Mayhem for two seasons already and had overseen office personnel and corporate contracts. He had also had prior SPHL experience, having worked in corporate sales with the Augusta Riverhawks before coming to Macon.
"I'm excited we're entering our fourth year here in Macon," Floyd said. "Since I've been here, I've placed a heavy emphasis on the fan experience. We've taken great strides towards making the game day environment over the top for our fans. We've put together a great staff. Everyone's very excited to be here, and we can't wait to get the season started."
Floyd will oversee both the front office and the hockey side of the operation for the 2018-19 campaign. A substantial number of the players responsible for the Mayhem's reign over the last two seasons will be returning, including the franchise's all-time leading scorer Jake Trask and stalwart goaltender Jordan Ruby. Combined with a new wave of young talent coming aboard, the Mayhem promise to make waves in the SPHL yet again this season.
The Mayhem will have a promotional night for all 28 of their regular season home games, which can be viewed on the Promotional Schedule page at MaconMayhem.com. More information on the upcoming season, including 2018-19 season tickets, can also be seen on the website or by calling the Mayhem Front Office at (478) 803-1592.
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Southern Professional Hockey League Stories from October 11, 2018
- 2018-19 Season Preview - Macon Mayhem
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