Mayhem, Riverhawks Staff Alumni: Where Are They Now?
MACON, GA - Since 2010, when the Macon Mayhem were known by a different name and played in a different city, players have not been the only members of the organization to reach great heights in their careers. With the start of an historic fifth season in Macon now less than 100 days away, the time has come to reflect upon some of the staff who have come and gone, making their mark on the organization's legacy and taking what they have learned to other places in the sports world.
The Augusta Riverhawks were first coached by Arizona Coyotes draft pick Brad Ralph, who is currently the head coach of the ECHL's Florida Everblades. The 38-year-old Canadian has already boasted a decorated coaching career, serving as the bench boss of the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL) and Everblades for three seasons each. In his third year with the 'Blades (2018-19), Ralph led his team to a record-breaking season which saw them finish the campaign in first place in the South Division with a record of 50-16-6.
"I learned a lot from him in the short time I was there," Mayhem forward Stathis Soumelidis said of Ralph. "He's got a great handle on his players and he makes it fun to play for him." Soumelidis played 11 games in Florida last season during his stint in the ECHL, registering a goal, assist, 16 PIMs and a +5 rating.
In the Riverhawks' first two seasons, Ralph coached high-scoring forward Neil Graham and went to Idaho with him to join the Steelheads in 2012. It was there when Graham hung up the skates and began his coaching career, starting out as Ralph's assistant before becoming his successor in 2015. Then, five days ago, Graham was hired as the Assistant Coach of the AHL's Texas Stars, the Dallas Stars' primary affiliate.
"Neil has proven himself as a capable coach during his tenure in Idaho," said Scott White, Assistant General Manager of the Dallas Stars. "His experience as a coach and player will be a tremendous asset to Head Coach Derek Laxdal and the entire Texas Stars coaching staff."
Graham is also one of a number of alumni with ties to the ECHL's Greenville Swamp Rabbits, having played a handful of games there during his final season with the Riverhawks. The Swamp Rabbits are presently led by former Mayhem Head Coach Kevin Kerr, who just finished his first campaign in Greenville. Last season, Kerr coached the likes of former Mayhem stars Garrett Bartus, Chris Izmirlian, Stephen Pierog and Dylan Vander Esch.
Joining Kerr in his first season in Greenville was Shawn Thorns, the Mayhem's Equipment Manager for the 2017-18 campaign. The two of them have now worked together for two consecutive seasons, forming a strong tandem in the hockey operations side of both the Macon and Greenville organizations.
"Both Kevin and Shawn did an outstanding job with us while they were in Macon," Mayhem General Manager Blair Floyd said. "They are both examples of our organization's track record of advancing not only players, but also staff to the next level so they can continue pursuing their aspirations."
Thorns' predecessor with the Mayhem, Mike Murphy, has also progressed through the hockey ranks incredibly quickly. The Brentwood, New Hampshire native was promoted from the Assistant Equipment Manager to the Head Equipment Manager of the AHL's San Jose Barracuda after just one season with the San Jose Sharks' top farm team. Murphy was the Mayhem's Equipment Manager during the 2016-17 season, when the Mayhem won their first President's Cup in franchise history. To this day, Murphy regards the championship as his "fondest hockey memory of all time."
Murphy's legacy with the Mayhem is still alive and well, as many of his handcrafted inventions and tricks of the trade have been passed down and are still utilized throughout the Macon Centreplex today.
Another equipment manager who has propelled himself to the top of the hockey hierarchy is Boston native Jorge Alves. Though he did not work for the Riverhawks or the Mayhem, he did work under Mayhem owners Bob and Diane Kerzner while he was with the SPHL's Twin City Cyclones in 2008. Alves has been the Head Equipment Manager for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes since the 2012-2013 season.
A former player, Alves registered a handful of games as an emergency goaltender in the SPHL and ECHL while working as an equipment manager. On December 31, 2016, he suited up for an NHL game in another emergency situation when the Hurricanes were facing the Tampa Bay Lightning.
There has been a considerable amount of turnover in the Mayhem front office in recent years, in large part due to the ambitions of the organization's employees. Though they did not stay in hockey when accepting their next jobs, two former workers have taken what they have learned from the Mayhem and continue to apply those skills to other sports organizations today.
Former Mayhem Director of Ticketing (2018) Michelle Carey is currently the Group Sales Coordinator in the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Athletic Department. While with the Mayhem, Carey substantially broadened the team's client base and consistently provided quality customer service to season ticket holders and fans at every home game.
Departing just months before Carey was former Mayhem Director of Media Relations & Broadcasting Erik Evenson, who accepted a position with the Walk-On's Independence Bowl. Evenson just spent his first season in Shreveport, Louisiana, helping to grow the product through media appearances and community programs.
Organizations under the ownership of the Kerzners have repeatedly demonstrated a keen aptitude for progressing the careers of not only players, but of employees, as well. The advancement from single-a hockey to the pinnacle of the sport, to university athletic departments, to Division I NCAA football and more speaks volumes to the effort budgeted towards the continued development of personnel.
Stay tuned on Mayhem social media for the latest updates. Opening night for the upcoming season is scheduled for October 18th against the Fayetteville Marksmen. Mayhem season tickets and partial plans are available for the 2019-20 campaign. For more information, call the Mayhem front office at (478) 803-1592.
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Southern Professional Hockey League Stories from July 12, 2019
- Mayhem, Riverhawks Staff Alumni: Where Are They Now? - Macon Mayhem
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