MACON, Ga. – Droughts exist. But at some point, those dry spells are bound to be broken.
And the Macon Mayhem did that in multiple ways on Saturday night at the Macon Coliseum against Roanoke.
Tyler Becker scored a pair of third-period goals, the first in his professional career, to break a 2-2 tie as Macon outlasted a short-handed Roanoke team, 4-2. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Macon, which also in the second period got on the board on a goal by Chris Hunt, also his first career goal. That score broke a scoring drought for the Mayhem, which had not scored a goal in nine combined periods.
“We showed up, played our brand of hockey, waited for them to come to us and we were also aggressive when we had the puck and moved it instead of trying to skate thru everybody,” Mayhem head coach Zac Desjardins said.
The win was a bounce-back for Macon, which a night earlier fell 3-0 to Roanoke thanks to a pair of early third-period goals by the Rail Yard Dawgs.
“We played well. We took about three shifts off and they capitalized (Friday),” Desjardins said. “It’s tough to give two goals up back to back like that.”
Macon appeared to put Friday’s result in the rear-view mirror early, playing physical from the drop of the puck. And although it did not result in any scoring for the Mayhem, it was a start that continued in the second period.
Macon would have to rally, first. At 6:57 of the second, Roanoke’s Jeff Jones made it 1-0.
Macon’s fans, many of which were clutching teddy bears and stuffed animals on teddy bear toss night, finally got a chance to hurl them onto the ice 11:49 into the second when Chris Hunt did enough to get a loose puck past Roanoke goalie Austyn Roudebush, who the night before kept the Mayhem off the scoreboard.
As expected, a barrage of stuffed animals made their way onto the ice, more than 700, according to the Mayhem.
If there was any sort of mental block from having not been able to score goals as of late, it apparently disappeared with the Mayhem’s first goal of the night.
Cody Rodgers made sure of that early in the third period. His shot from the point couldn’t be stopped by Roudebush, and Macon went up front, 2-1.
Both teams were whistled three times for minor penalties, and none was more costly than Caleb Cameron going off for tripping at 4:38 of the third. That’s because 5:05 into the third, Nick Ford, getting an assist from Jones and Matt O’Dea, equalized the score with his shot from the left side getting the best of Macon goalie Michael Stiliadis.
Stiliadis stopped 19-of-21 shots to take the win, and he got some offensive support not long after the Roanoke goal.
Becker ended up being Johnny On The Spot 10:42 into the third, blasting a puck from the point past Roudebush for the go-ahead goal. He only needed 17 seconds to light the lamp again, knocking in a rebound from a shot by Zak Lambrecht off of the pads of Roudebush. In a matter of fewer than 20 seconds, a tie game was a decisive advantage for the Mayhem, one that they held the rest of the way to win.
The back and forth between the two teams extended just past the final whistle. As both teams were exiting the ice, both head coaches, Desjardins and Roanoke’s Dan Bremner exchanged words across the ice as each team made its way to the respective locker rooms.
“He’s yelling at our guys to get off the ice and I’m like, ‘well, you get off the ice, take your guys off the ice, your guys are doing the same thing.’ ” Desjardins said. “The home team always salutes the fans (at center ice), win or lose,” Desjardins said. “I think as a league we have to start addressing it. We’ve got to figure out a way to make it less controversial, maybe we switch benches instead of both teams crossing like that. It’s started to become an issue because both teams are getting more physical.”
Macon hosts Fayetteville on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The Mayhem won’t play at home after that until Jan. 13.
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