MACON, Ga. – The Zac Desjardins era for the Macon Mayhem began on Friday night with Macon opening the season at Knoxville. The Mayhem traded blow for blow with the Ice Bears through two periods before a span of 2:41 proved to be Macon’s undoing as a pair of Knoxville goals made the difference in a 3-1 loss.
Both teams are off until next Friday, when the Mayhem visit Peoria and the Ice Bears go to Birmingham.
Macon goalie Dillon Kelley, who stopped 37 of the 40 shots that he faced, made multiple saves early on, and that was a big reason that the contest was scoreless after a period. Macon, outshot 40-23 overall on Friday, dug its heels in to begin the second period. In a stretch in that some teams would retreat and lose control of the game, Macon, a team with all of its roster from last year having departed for either the ECHL or other opportunities away from the ice, did the opposite.
After Stefan Brucato scored off of a redirect to give the Ice Bears a 1-0 lead, getting an assist from Kyler Matthews and Colton Fletcher, affairs got even direr 1:18 into the second when Devin Brink drew a game misconduct and five-minute major for an illegal check to the head. The Ice Bears were handed a golden opportunity to blow the game open. Instead, the Mayhem turned the tables on the Ice Bears. After killing off the five-minute penalty, Macon’s penalty-kill unit again took the ice after Taylor Cutting was whistled for roughing. That’s when a turnover by Knoxville’s Jason Price proved costly, as Donald Carter, Jr. was in prime position to pounce on the loose puck, carrying it in on the breakaway to shoot the puck past Knoxville goalie Jimmy Poreda to tie the score at 1-1.
The back and forth was hardly limited to the goal-scoring. The second period was also marked by a minor scrape between Macon’s Scott Coash and Knoxville’s Stepan Timofeyev just past the halfway mark of the period before at 11:43 heavy punches were thrown by Macon’s Brendan Hussey and Knoxville’s Carter Cowlthorp.
Ironically, Cowlthorp and Timofeyev would hurt Macon is more critical ways in the third period. Cowlthorp’s goal, assisted by Timofeyev 9:45 into the third period provided insurance by way of a 3-1 goal. It came less than three minutes after Michael Mercurio’s game-winner, which was assisted by Steven Leonard and JB Baker.
Leonard gave Macon a pair of power-play chances in the first period alone. But the Mayhem, like the Ice Bears, came up empty on the man-advantage, with both teams going a combined 0-for-7 on the power play.
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