MACON, Ga. – The going was easy less than 24 hours earlier for the Macon Mayhem against the Vermilion County Bobcats in a 5-0 win. And it seemed as if it’d be easy again on Saturday night a mere 15 seconds into the game on a goal by Scott Coash.
That start, however, turned out to be fool’s gold for the Mayhem as the Bobcats rallied twice from one-goal deficits before Brett Radford’s wrister from the right side inched past Macon goalie Gregg Hussey for the go-ahead goal 14:16 into the second period in what ended up being a 3-2 win for Vermilion County.
Macon’s loss added up to a two-game split between the teams in their only meeting of the season, dropping the Mayhem’s record to 9-36-5 with 2 points the Vermilion County’s to 5-42-5 with 15 points.
“I feel like we took about five steps back. It was a completely different team, I know we had two guys out, but you can’t let two guys dictate your lineup like that,” Mayhem head coach Zac Desjardins said. “I don’t think our guys showed up, I think they thought it would be another cakewalk and it’d be easy. It was bad that we scored on our first shot and it wasn’t a great shot, but we scored that goal and it was cruise control from there.”
Postseason hopes are a distant dream for both teams, so the motivation of being able to play the role of spoiler for another’s postseason hopes was a non-factor on Saturday. Pride, however, was a factor, and Vermilion showed that quickly, tying the scoring just 1:40 after Macon’s 1-0 lead on a goal by Aaron Ryback. A similar pattern followed in the second period after Michael Snow’s score 7:54 in. No more than two minutes later, a defensive breakdown gave Vermilion County an easy scoring chance against Hussey, and Levi Cudmore took advantage to tie it 9:15 into the second on the power play.
Despite multiple scoring chances during the rest of the night, none resulted in goals for the Mayhem, who were plagued by either not quite being in position for rebounds or bad bounces. Bobcats goalie Ben Churchfield also played a role, stopping 29-of-31 shots with Hussey blocking 22 of the 25 that he faced.
The Mayhem came up empty on the power play five times, but that was hardly the only thing having to do with penalties that played a role on Saturday.
Emotions absolutely came to a head with a combined 106 penalty minutes between the teams, 56 on Macon’s behalf. Macon’s Chris Hunt not only drew five minutes for his fight 15:51 into the second with Ben Boukal, but he was also tagged with a ten-minute game misconduct.
It wouldn’t be the night’s only major altercation. Less than a minute after Macon led 2-1, a hit levied along the boards behind the Vermilion County net sparked multiple fights all over the ice, even escalating to both goalies nearly charging one another before game officials were able to prevent it from happening. By the time it all ended, Vermilion County had landed one five-minute penalty for fighting and two game misconducts with Macon’s Taylor Cutting drawing the same. The Bobcats Brent Portillo was also tagged with a ten-minute game misconduct and Macon’s Jamie Dorsey served a two-minute minor for roughing.
“I was talking about to him after it happened. I understand why he did it. It’s not the greatest thing in the world, but it does happen,” Desjardins said of Cutting’s penalty. “As soon as that happened, it was like we were playing soft, we weren’t playing tough again, weren’t getting pissed and not getting hits.”
As a result, Macon was down more player the rest of the game, making it tougher to mount a game-tying goal as Bryan Etter was serving a one-game suspension along with the Bobcats Zak Sheikh from their altercation the night before.
Macon plays on the road for the final time of the season Thursday at Pensacola before starting a four-game homestand to close out the year on Friday against Birmingham.
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