Preview: Mayhem vs. Knoxville Ice Bears (Challenge Round, Game 2)
Mayhem Edged in Hard-Fought Game 1
The Mayhem were faced with a number of disadvantages heading into Game 1 of the Challenge Round. They were on the road in a tough building without their head coach. Still, they outperformed the Knoxville Ice Bears for the majority of the game, and outshot the home squad by a 33-22 margin. Surge after surge of time in the attacking zone was withered by Hayden Stewart, who had the best game of his professional career and allowed fewer than two goals in a game for the first time as an Ice Bear.
Missed opportunities haunted the Mayhem from start to finish last night, whether it was an unfriendly post bounce, a near miss, a spectacular Stewart save, or simply a lack of secondary chances. Stewart did concede a number of rebounds off his pads, in which the puck bounced into extremely dangerous areas of the ice but to a Knoxville stick. Crashing the net for rebounds tonight will be an undisputed key of the game, as the Mayhem battle for their lives for the first time since last April.
On home ice, the Mayhem earned a 3-1-0 record against the Ice Bears this season and a goal differential of +4 (15-11). Stewart has played just one game at the Macon Centreplex, stopping 30 of the Mayhem's 33 shots on goal in a 4-2 loss on November 10th. He has earned the starting job and will likely play again tonight given his performance yesterday. As for Macon's goaltending situation, the waters have been muddied substantially and the decision is still up in the air.
Jordan Ruby was expected to get the nod last night after returning from the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers on Monday. The 2017 President's Cup Playoff MVP still holds the best save percentage in the SPHL through 12 regular season games played this season, allowing three goals or fewer in all dozen outings. However, the decision was to start rookie protégé Kevin Entmaa, instead. Entmaa played well, turning aside 20 of Knoxville's 22 shots and making a handful of enormous saves in the process. Unfortunately, his performance was again overshadowed by the sensational play of his counterpart. Tonight, the question of who starts in net still looms for the Mayhem.
Tonight is the first game in which the Mayhem will have their backs against the wall since April 20th of 2018. In their history, the Mayhem are 4-2 in must-win games and are 3-1 on home ice. For several of Macon's players, tonight could be the last meaningful game of hockey they play in their lives. Those players in particular will be doing all in their power to prevent that from happening. Expect tonight to be another hard-fought affair in which truly everything is left on the ice.
Playoff Tickets/Jersey Auction
Playoff tickets for tonight'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 here, or by visiting the Macon Centreplex Box Office at 200 Coliseum Drive. Following tonight's game, there will be a live post-game jersey auction in the lobby of the Macon Centreplex.
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Southern Professional Hockey League Stories from April 13, 2019
- Mayhem Season Ends in Heartbreaking Loss to Ice Bears - Macon Mayhem
- Bulls Win Game 2 at Home - Birmingham Bulls
- Preview: Mayhem vs. Knoxville Ice Bears (Challenge Round, Game 2) - Macon Mayhem
- No Bull: Pawloski Serves Birmingham First Shutout of the Season - Fayetteville Marksmen
- Ice Bears Grab Series Lead - Knoxville Ice Bears
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