Preview: Mayhem at Knoxville Ice Bears (Challenge Round, Game 1)
Mayhem Finish Regular Season as Sixth Seed
Though they put up a valiant effort in Peoria last weekend, the Mayhem could not collect any points from the series and were unable to secure home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Despite the upsetting season finale, the Mayhem did still benefit in other ways, as the Selection Show proved just how much Macon's opponents fear playing them in the first round.
As was expected, the Peoria Rivermen and the Birmingham Bulls chose the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs and the Fayetteville Marksmen, respectively. The Selection Show had been going fairly according to plan, until Huntsville Havoc Head Coach Glenn DeTulleo was on the clock. He ended up deciding on the red-hot Pensacola Ice Flyers, who had won 10 of their last 15 games to close the season. As such, the Mayhem were left with the only team remaining, the Knoxville Ice Bears, who the Mayhem have had a better head-to-head record against than any other team to qualify for the playoffs.
Against Knoxville during the regular season, Macon managed a record of 5-1-1 and owned a solid goal differential of +8 (26-18). The Mayhem defeated the Ice Bears in their final home game of the regular season by a 4-2 final score and completed the sweep in a home-and-home series to close out March. However, a huge x-factor entering this matchup is the fact that Knoxville's penalty kill, for virtually the entire season, led the SPHL with a pseudo-92% conversion rate. More often than not, teams with a strong PK fare well in the playoffs and can generate substantial momentum for the even strength units to build upon.
Like the Mayhem, the Ice Bears have garnered a significantly stronger home record than they have on the road this season. They know the unconventional dimensions of their own rink better than anyone, and they know how to use them to their advantage. As such, Mayhem Head Coach Leo Thomas has prepared his team all week for this matchup and playing in this building, which has an extremely small neutral zone and uncommonly bouncy backboards.
No doubt, the return of Jordan Ruby played a considerable part in shunning many of Macon's potential first-round opponents away from selecting them. The 2017 President's Cup Playoff MVP led the league with a save percentage of .941 when he was called up by the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL on December 4th. While in Wheeling, Ruby played in 27 games, earning a record of 12-10-3, a 2.87 goals against average, and a .911 save percentage. He is certainly in the conversation for being the best puck-stopper in the SPHL, and any questions regarding the most important position for the Mayhem were immediately answered when he returned. He is expected to start tonight against Hayden Stewart. The only potential question mark concerning him is the fact that he has not played an SPHL game since December 1st of 2018, when he stopped 24 of 25 shots in a 4-1 victory against the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs.
Playoff tickets for tomorrow night's game at the Macon Centreplex are still on sale. Pricing will be $8 for children aged 2-12, $12 for season ticket holders, $14 for the general public, $16 glass seats for season ticket holders, and $22 glass seats for the general public. Season ticket holders can purchase their tickets by calling the Mayhem office at (478) 803-1592. Tickets for the general public can be purchased by visiting the Macon Centreplex Box Office at 200 Coliseum Drive.
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Southern Professional Hockey League Stories from April 12, 2019
- Rivermen Comeback Effort Falls Short, Season Ends Friday - Peoria Rivermen
- Dawgs Withstand Rivermen Surge, Advance to Semis with 4-3 Win - Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs
- Mayhem Fall in High-Stakes Game One, Now Face Must-Win - Macon Mayhem
- Bulls Drop Game 1 on the Road - Birmingham Bulls
- Preview: Mayhem at Knoxville Ice Bears (Challenge Round, Game 1) - Macon Mayhem
- Three Bulls Selected to 2018-19 All-League First Team - Birmingham Bulls
- Rail Yard Dawgs Game Notes: Challenge Round Game 2 - #5 Rail Yard Dawgs (1-0) at #1 Rivermen (0-1) - 7:15 PM CDT - Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs
- Salkeld Earns First-Team All-SPHL Honors - Huntsville Havoc
- With Home Playoff Debut, Marksmen Look to Tame the Bulls - Fayetteville Marksmen
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