2019 Playoff Roster Breakdown
With the President's Cup Playoffs now underway, it is high time to delve in and break down the 19 players comprising the Mayhem roster. It is one which has clearly struck a degree of fear into its opponents, as the Mayhem were the only eligible team to not be willingly selected in the SPHL Challenge Round. A veteran offense, a youthful defense, and a proven goaltending tandem will make their best efforts to carry the Mayhem to a President's Cup Title for the second time in three seasons.
Entering the season, the Mayhem's forward group was made up of a number of well-known names who had been high-scoring players in the SPHL for years. The Triple-A Line- consisting of Jake Trask, John Siemer and Stathis Soumelidis- had all won a President's Cup two seasons prior. The three of them, along with Caleb Cameron and Dakota Klecha, all ranked in the top 30 in the SPHL in scoring the previous season. Few questioned Macon's offensive firepower and its veteran leadership, which managed to live up to its high expectations this season.
Returning Veterans -- Trask equaled his goal total from the previous year with 27, again ranking among the top three goal-scorers in the league. Siemer and Cameron were ironmen, being the only two players to dress for all 56 games for the Mayhem on the campaign. Siemer had the best season of his professional career, placing third in the SPHL with 39 assists and adding 16 goals to lead the Mayhem in points with 55. Cameron, despite facing a drop in overall production from 2017-18, caught fire as the season drew to a close and tallied 5 points (2G, 3A) in the final two weekends. Soumelidis earned an ECHL call-up which removed him from the Mayhem roster for 19 games, but his return made an immensely positive impact on the team in a very short period of time. As was the case last season, Seth Ronsberg has served as an effective utility player who has played any position the team has needed. His adaptability and his team-first attitude will be indispensable qualities for the Mayhem heading into the postseason.
New Additions - Derek Sutliffe highlights the group of new forwards to the Mayhem, ranking second on the team in goals this season with 21. He has provided steady, consistent goal-scoring throughout the campaign, and brings President's Cup Playoff experience with him from the Mississippi Riverkings. The acquisition of former Ice Bears Danny Cesarz and Marcus Ortiz will indisputably make for an interesting storyline in the Challenge Round when the Mayhem square off against Knoxville. Both of them played a pivotal role in securing Macon's 6-2 victory in Knoxville two weeks ago, and will have large chips on their shoulders when they battle their former squad this weekend. Ortiz, joined by young guns Jimmy Soper and Shawn Lynch, will make up a solid third line which brings strong two-way capabilities and a healthy amount of grit and sandpaper to the forefront. In the last game of the season, Lynch stepped onto Macon's top-scoring unit with Trask and Siemer, and proved he can assimilate to such a role if necessary.
Of all positions, the Mayhem defense corps had the most question marks coming into the campaign. Daniel Gentzler, Chris Joseph, Jeff Sanders, and other well-known names who were questionable to return this season all opted not to do so, leaving the blue line with a number of vacancies for younger rearguards to claim. The available spots allowed for the opportunity for many rookies to grow and improve their game, planting the seed for a new generation of Mayhem defensemen.
Returning Veterans - Zach Urban was the only Mayhem blue-liner who had experience playing in Macon for more than half a season. As such, he naturally served as the leader of the back end, donning the 'A' for a period of time while Soumelidis was in the ECHL. Urban had a strong finish to the campaign, registering 5 assists in as many games as the season came to a close.
New Additions - Kristaps Bazevics led all Mayhem defensemen in scoring this season, generating 20 points (4G, 16A) in 46 games played. The ex-Riverking returned to health just before the Peoria series began, giving him the opportunity to regain his stride heading into the playoffs. Jarret Kup and Larry Smith both played enormous roles for the Mayhem on the blue line this season, each dressing for 50+ games after only appearing in a handful in 2017-18. Kup has shown great promise as a quick, puck-moving defenseman with a solid shot and high offensive upside, while Smith led the team with a +24 rating and earned an All-Star Team selection. After playing 54 career games for the Mayhem, Smith scored his first goal with the organization on the last day of the regular season against Peoria. He is on track to becoming one of the top shutdown defenders in the SPHL.
Jake Faiella cracked Macon's 2018 playoff roster after only appearing in 6 regular season games. He has spent the bulk of this season playing for Kevin Kerr in the ECHL, and has grown into a stronger, more durable defender as a result. He possesses tremendous defensive instincts and has been one of Macon's best shot-blockers since his return. Macon's youngest player, Nick Minerva, played his first professional season with the Mayhem and seldom missed a game. He began earning time on the power play towards the end of the campaign, and has demonstrated keen offensive skills and the ability to rotate up to forward if need be.
No team in the SPHL has undergone the amount of turnover the Mayhem have at the goaltender position. The season started with Jordan Ruby and Gordon Defiel as the 1-2 tandem Coach Thomas decided upon. Before long, both would be called to the ECHL, leading to Ian Sylves emerging as the next starter and a slew of other goaltenders battling for the back-up position. Tanner Creel, Henry Dill, and Andrew D'Agostini all had an opportunity to win the job, but it would not work out for any of them due to varying reasons. Adrian College standout Kevin Entmaa joined the team in late March after his college playing career had wrapped up, and earned a full-time spot after playing extremely well against Pensacola and Knoxville. When Ruby's ECHL team fell short of making the playoffs, he returned to Macon to try to help his old squad win a championship.
Ruby was the 2017 President's Cup Playoff MVP, registering an absurd .957 save percentage through 7 games and an exceedingly stingy 1.39 goals against average. In 12 games played in Macon earlier this season, his numbers were not far behind (.941 SV%, 1.90 GAA). He is the undisputed starter heading into the playoffs, but Entmaa has quickly proven he will serve as a very capable understudy to the seasoned veteran.
At all positions, the Mayhem have demonstrated they possess the depth, experience, youth, and chemistry needed to make a deep push in the 2019 President's Cup Playoffs. Tomorrow night's game in Knoxville is when the second season begins, and when the team's incredibly high potential is truly put to the test.
Saturday, April 13th will be the Mayhem's first home playoff game. Tickets can be purchased, or by visiting the box office at 200 Coliseum Drive.
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- 2019 Playoff Roster Breakdown - Macon Mayhem
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