Mayhem Fall in High-Stakes Game One, Now Face Must-Win
In a neck-and-neck tilt in Knoxville to commence the Mayhem's postseason, the Ice Bears held on to triumph by a 3-1 score on Friday night.
The Mayhem got off to a terrific start, generating a plethora of early shots on goal and dominating the tempo with extensive offensive zone time. A point-blank opportunity for Jake Trask nearly gave the Mayhem a 1-0 lead, but the puck bounced off the inside of the right post and was stopped in the crease by Hayden Stewart. Caleb Cameron deflected a point shot soon after, which just missed the right post on the way through.
In the 18th minute of play, Marcus Ortiz was penalized for cross-checking. Just 17 seconds later, Jake Faiella was sent to the sin bin for holding, which put the Mayhem on a 5-on-3 penalty kill. The Ice Bears capitalized on the two-man advantage, as Stefan Brucato buried the puck from the side of the net to give the home side a 1-0 edge heading into the first intermission.
Macon possessed a clear edge in the time on attack in period two, and outshot the Ice Bears 11-6 in the middle stanza. Danny Cesarz and Jake Trask each fired hard shots on net, but they could not convert on their chances. Stathis Soumelidis tested Stewart with a backhand shot from the top of the blue paint, but the Knoxville goaltender squashed another opportunity. The Mayhem would enter the third period with 99 seconds of carryover time on their third power play of the game.
The Ice Bears were able to fend off the Macon power play with aplomb to start the closing 20-minute stanza. Almost immediately thereafter, Jimmy Soper was sent to the box for slashing, giving the Ice Bears another chance on the power play. From the outer hashmarks of the left circle, Knoxville Captain Lucas Bombardier whipped the puck towards the front of the net. The puck ricocheted to Stanislav Dzakhov, who ripped it through Entmaa's equipment to double the Ice Bears' lead.
A response was in order from the Mayhem's power play 4:13 after falling behind by a pair. A well-executed cycle ended with a hot pass finding Cesarz's tape in the blue paint. The ex-Ice Bear redirected the puck past Stewart, finally beating the Knoxville net-minder. However, Stewart shut the door for the remainder of the game, and backstopped his team to a 3-1 victory with an empty-net goal scored by Scott Cuthrell.
Entmaa was charged with the loss, stopping 20 of 22 shots. Stewart earned the First Star of the Game, denying 32 of Macon's 33. The Mayhem will return to the Macon Centreplex to host the Ice Bears in a must-win game to keep the season alive. Puck drop is set for 7:30 pm ET.
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