MACON, Ga. – The ability to fight back was not lost for the Macon Mayhem on Sunday. Less than 24 hours after two games in a row at Pensacola came to an end in a 4-3 loss following an early 3-0 hole, the Mayhem battled their way uphill again on Sunday against Knoxville, giving up two early goals prior to tying the game twice before the Ice Bears’ Justin MacDonald won it 6-5 13:43 into the third period for Knoxville.
“We had every single reason to mail it in (Saturday and Sunday),” Mayhem head coach Nick Niedert said. “We bounced back.”
The win is the third in four days for the Ice Bears.
Knoxville’s Bailey Conger and Rex Moe, who also scored a goal a piece in the first period against Forget, netted power-play goals in the first 5:48 of the third. Like the night before a Pensacola, every chance was there for the Mayhem to roll over the mail it in. They did just the opposite, with Tommy Munichiello slapping in a rebound past Stead for one power-play goal with Caleb Cameron swooping in to slam in a loose puck from the doorstep 12:15 into the third to tie it on yet another power-play goal, bringing the matinee crowd to its feet.
But that’d be the end of Macon’s heroics, as MacDonald’s goal plus multiple defensive stands the rest of the way held off the Mayhem, who outshot the Ice Bears 45-35 on Sunday.
“That was a darn good hockey game, I’d of bought a ticket to it,” Niedert said.
The aggression started early on Sunday for Macon, throwing ten shots at Stead in the first six minutes. That generated multiple scoring chances as expected, but the Mayhem could not take advantage. The Ice Bears, to their credit, did, getting power-play goals by Conger and Moe less than three minutes apart to go up 2-0 9:22 into the game with Moe’s being on the power-play just ten seconds after Kyle Soper was called for tripping.
“We’ve changed some things up and scored there again (Sunday),” Knoxville head coach Brent Clarke said.
That power-play score was one of six combined, with three on each side. Macon got one of them 8:40 into the second when Jacob Ratcliffe’s blast from the far side of the left circle was good for the Mayhem’s first goal 8:40 into the second.
#KNXvsMAC | Jacob Ratcliffe’s blast from outside the left circle cuts the Knoxville lead to 2-1 – prompting fans to litter the ice with tightey whiteys and other clothing that’ll be donated to @DepaulUSA in Macon pic.twitter.com/u831o1svzP
— Brad Harrison (@FPHMayhem) January 22, 2023
Down 2-1, the Mayhem fell behind 3-1 at 13:21 when pressure on the Macon zone led to Cole McKenchney’s goal.
“The one thing I am extremely proud of is the character, the thing I am sick of is the stupid errors every single game,” Niedert said. “I just told them ‘everybody has at least three of these errors that they made, if they just subtract one, we win a hockey game.’ ”
— Macon Mayhem (@MaconMayhem) January 23, 2023
“We showed that we’re not a veteran team. Older guys find ways to win, especially in a three-in-three. Their older guys stepped up. It was a good hockey game,” Niedert said. “Unfortunately, we shot ourselves in the foot again with stupid errors – not stopping pucks, turning it over at the blue line, defense getting shots blocked, making pinches at the wrong time, and defense not having support and deciding to pinch. It’s the same cliche over and over.”
Macon plays next Friday and Saturday at Evansville, with its next home game Feb. 5 against Birmingham. Knoxville hosts Huntsville on Friday and Saturday.
“We didn’t play to our potential. We had two leads twice, blew them, and got the win coming away,” Ice Bears head coach Brent Clarke said.
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