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Macon Mayhem

Macon Mayhem

Cameron, Nippard, lead Mayhem to New Year’s Eve Win

#SPHL | The New Year’s Eve revelry started early for the Macon Mayhem with a 3-2 win Saturday over Pensacola. FPH’s Brad Harrison has coverage of the Mayhem win

Cameron, Nippard, lead Mayhem to New Year’s Eve Win

MACON, Ga. – Both David Nippard and Caleb Cameron wear patches on their jerseys, signifying that they are among Macon’s team captains.

Both showed that it’s hardly a coincidence on Saturday night against Pensacola.

“Leadership won us a hockey game,” Mayhem head coach Nick Niedert said. “They put the team in that direction, our guys jumped on their backs, and they followed them.”

With its forward lines depleted due to additional ECHL call-ups, Cameron, home earlier in the week for his father’s funeral, changed his flight plans to get back sooner, and it paid off handsomely for Macon. Cameron had a goal and two assists, including the night’s opening goal, as the Mayhem beat Pensacola 3-2, with Nippard’s power-play goal 13:50 into the final period being the game-winner.

“Caleb Cameron missed a few days, went home for his father’s funeral, changed his flight, got back to today’s game, and got us on the board,” Niedert said. “It was an emotional day for him; he’s an emotional guy. It was huge. Him pointing to the sky, the guys on the bench knew how much it meant to him after the goal there.”

The victory also came behind the 23 saves on 25 shots from Cody Karpinski, signed earlier this week by the Mayhem. Niedert said that Karpinski will get the start on Friday at Roanoke.

“We gave Cody the cage (Saturday), and he ran with it,” Niedert said.

With the win, Macon closes out the 2022 year with two wins in its past four games.

“Ending 2022 like this, it’s absolutely massive,” Nippard said. “We’re in every single game. This, it’s monumental for us.”

The Mayhem were down two forwards Saturday with the loan of CJ Hayes to Savannah and Connor Graham to Atlanta. That meant that new faces would have to set the tone and step up, and that’s exactly what happened early. Getting a pass along the right board, Cameron carried the puck just inside the blue line, getting into position to shoot the puck past Pensacola goalie Henry Johnson to lead 1-0 13:47 into the first period with assists from Aaron Aragon and Wyatt Trumbley.

The Ice Flyers rallied back, as Joey Sofo took advantage of a near-perfect setup in front of Karpinsky to tie it 1-1 4:14 into the second.

From there, the penalty kill units took the spotlight, getting dueling short-handed goals from Macon’s Aragon and Pensacola’s Malik Johnson to keep things near even in more ways than one following two stanzas. Not only was the score even, but shots were close equalized, too, with the Ice Flyers holding a 21-20 edge.

In a game as even as this one was, the most minor thing can make a difference. And on a night where teams were whistled for a combined five minor penalties, the Mayhem seized on a big opportunity in the final period. A holding penalty to Jordan Henderson sent the Mayhem on the man-advantage at 11:56, and Macon capitalized with Nippard’s go-ahead score.

That put Macon up 3-2 with just over eight minutes to play, and it leaned heavier on defensemen in the final stretch as they held off the Ice Flyers with Karpinski making multiples save in the end, including stopping a shot from the point with seconds to go.

“There was no complaining on the bench about ice time. The thing I am most proud of was that there was no whistle the last four minutes and change of the period, and the guys were reading and reacting,” Niedert said. “I was going d-first with everything, and they were up on the bench, yelling and calling this out that they were seeing and making sure that the guys on the ice knew. That was a team win. It was a gutsy win. The guys played for each other and played for our leaders.”

What’s Next?

To say that Macon won’t play at home again for a while is an understatement. The Mayhem’s Jan. 22 game against Knoxville is its only home game between now and Feb. 24. Macon starts its road swing Friday at Roanoke. Pensacola hosts Birmingham on Friday.

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2023 season!

    Brad Harrison covers the Macon Mayhem for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHMayhem.

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