MACON, Ga. – Despite a missed opportunity over the weekend, the Macon Mayhem still remain very much in the thick of the race for the postseason.
Macon’s hopes of a second two-game winning streak in as many weekends came to a halt on Saturday night in a 5-2 loss to Birmingham after giving up three goals in the game’s first seven minutes.
A Bobby Sokol power play goal late in the first period generated a degree of momentum, but that energy bounced back over to the side of the Bulls with a power play goal of their own by way of Russell Jordan.
Macon was unable to manage no more than a goal by Colton Wolter — as well as being unable to cash in on a two-man advantage in the second period — helped to seal the loss for the Mayhem despite outshooting the Bulls 40-22.
With Macon and Birmingham both being among four teams fighting for a pair of SPHL President’s Cup playoff spots, the loss was an opportunity missed. The Mayhem (14-23-6, 34 points) are now worse than two points out of the top eight in the standings. After Saturday, Macon was one point behind eighth-place Roanoke and two behind both Birmingham and Quad City.
Yes, Saturday was a missed chance to make up valuable ground. But Macon has more than enough time to atone for it.
Overall, 13 games remain in the Mayhem’s season. After hosting Pensacola on Tuesday night, Macon plays at home just three times more this season: on March 10 and again on March 27 & 28.
If Macon can do what it has done as of late — get timely scoring and solid goaltending — they stand a very good chance of being in the postseason. Prior to Saturday night, the Mayhem had done that for the most part.
Going into Saturday night, Macon had won four out of six games, the two setbacks being to Fayetteville and the latter was Thursday’s 4-3 loss in which the Mayhem were overtaken in the final period.
Friday’s 1-0 win, albeit settled in a shootout after two periods on a Stephen Pierog goal, was huge for Macon if for no other season than it was the first win of the year for Macon against the Marksmen.
With two games remaining this year against Fayetteville (a team fighting for first place), the smallest level of confidence could make a major difference entering the part of the season when every point matters.
One thing that’ll need to continue for Macon to have a chance at the postseason will be to get goalie play that’s good enough to keep the Mayhem in games. Saturday’s loss ended a six-game span in which Macon had allowed more than three goals just once with the combination of Hayden Stewart and Michael Stiliadis.
Stewart has won two of his past three starts and also gave up just two goals after coming off the bench on Saturday, playing 53 minutes. Stiliadis, even though he was credited with the loss on Saturday, has gotten the win for Macon two of his last three times out, including two periods of shutout hockey in Friday’s shortened contest.
Macon’s other half of being able to win games over the next month and a half will be seizing chances on the offensive end. Caleb Cameron and Dylan Denomme have done that especially as of late.
Cameron’s 22 points and seven goals is good for second on the team in both categories, behind Pierog (the team leader in points, assists and goals). Despite being with the team for just 17 games, Denomme continues to fit in nicely with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists).
Cameron and Denomme have been on an especially torrid pace recently, having points in four of their past five games. While Cameron has seven points and four goals in his past five, Denomme has eight points and two goals.
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