MACON, Ga. – On Pucks & Paws Night at the Macon Coliseum on Saturday night, the Macon Mayhem gave their fans something to happily bark about.
In a battle of two teams looking to make up ground toward a postseason spot, Macon snapped a six-game losing streak, shutting the Bulls out 4-0 behind 35 saves from Michael Stiliadis. The Mayhem’s most recent win also came against Birmingham on Jan. 29.
“He’s been playing in some big games and making some big saves We just haven’t been giving him complete support, but we did that (Saturday),” Mayhem head coach Zac Desjardins said. “He made some big saves back there.”
With a record of 7-29-3 and 17 points, the Mayhem are 26 points out of eighth place in the standings with the Bulls (13-25.4, 30 points) 13 shy of eighth-place Evansville.
But both teams showed physical aggression that showed Saturday’s game meant something to each side, with a handful of shoving matches going with the gloves being dropped on two occasions. The first game in the first period when Macon’s Ethan Busch Anderson appeared to take issue with a hit delivered on the boards to the Mayhem’s Brendan Hussey, and Busch Anderson exchanged blows with Birmingham’s Matthew Hobbs. Then, in the third period, it was Macon’s Chris Hunt and the Bulls’ Brody Duncan going at it.
“When you play a team like Birmingham, they’re a lot like us,” Desjardins said. “They’re not as fast as Knoxville or Huntsville, but they’re physical. We battled just like they did.”
But the Mayhem flexed more muscle from the opening puck drop, and a 1-0 lead was the result when a shot from the right was deflected out, and Hussey ripped the shot from the opposite side to beat Austin Lotz for a 1-0 lead just 5:16 into the game with Zak Lambrecht and Caleb Cameron assisting. Macon, which outshot Birmingham 43-35 for the game, was especially strong in that aggression in the first period with a 17-9 advantage.
Getting an assist from Devin Brink and Busch Anderson, Nigel Slade angled a shot in from the left of the net in the second, resulting in a 2-0 Mayhem lead 10:27 into the second. The contest looked to have a two-goal Macon lead in hand, but that changed with 18:27 to play when Brink blasted a shot from along the right boards, and the puck snaked past Lotz for a 3-0 lead for Macon, which added an empty-net goal in the closing minute for the final margin.
“It’s always fun when you’re playing for something,” Desjardins said. “The playoffs are our dream, but we have to play with pride and passion, as well.”
Macon hosts Pensacola on Thursday with the Bulls hosting the Ice Flyers on Friday.
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