MACON, Ga. – Friday night, the Macon Mayhem hosted the Knoxville Ice Bears in a game matching the next to last team in the standings against a team in second place.
That disparity may exist in the win/loss column, but it didn’t show one the ice at the Macon Coliseum as the Mayhem rallied to tie the game three different times.
The Mayhem came back from a 3-1 deficit after a period of play to lead by a goal before the Ice Bears tied it, sending the game to overtime where Kasey Kulczycki won it for Knoxville, beating Mayhem goalie Michael Stiliadis through his five-hole to win it 6-5 for the Ice Bears.
Caleb Cameron had a pair of goals for Macon on Friday with Cody Rodgers and Curtis Hansen each logging two assists.
With the overtime loss, Macon has a two-game point streak and has now scored 11 goals in its past two games. Knoxville has won eight games in a row.
“(Thursday) I was excited. Even though we won, I wasn’t overly excited because I felt like we should have won,” Mayhem head coach Zac Desjardins said. “(Friday), I was more excited with the tie than anything yesterday. I’m just pumped for our guys, they played well.”
In a sign of continued growth by the Mayhem, Macon strung together a pair of rallies on Friday.
The first came in familiar territory. For the second night in a row, the Mayhem yielded an early goal. This time, Sam Turner needed just 2:28 to put Knoxville upfront. It took until the final minutes of the first period, but Macon found the back of the net. On the power play thanks to a tripping penalty against Anthony McVeigh, Cameron found his way to a loose puck to the left of the net and got it past Knoxville goalie Kristian Stead to tie the score at 1-1 17:28 into the first.
The Mayhem lead, however, did not last long. Goals J.B. Baker and Dean Moore in the final two minutes moved the Ice Bears in front 3-1, the first of those two goals was vehemently protested by Mayhem fans and the Macon bench.
Earlier in the season, such a deficit may have resulted in the Mayhem folding and losing by a wider margin. That wasn’t the case on Friday.
“We came in down 3-1, I kind of got on them, I’m not going to lie,” Desjardins said. “(Thursday), we proved we can do it, and hopefully that confidence will snowball. It’s nice to see guys not hang their heads and think, ‘here we go again.’ ”
Zak Lambrecht, one night after a hat trick against Birmingham, stayed hot, getting a breakaway a minute into the second, trimmed the Ice Bears lead to 3-2. Continued pressure by the Mayhem, which had a total of 35 shots on goal Friday, led to a game-tying goal 9:34 into the second period with a slapshot by Brian Kerrigan with Curtis Hansen and Lambrecht getting an assist.
Another comeback setting for the Mayhem arose near the end of the third period with Razmuz Waxin-Engback scoring to make it 4-3.
Unrattled, Macon rallied for the third time, getting a pair of power-play goals 21 seconds apart by Scott Coash and Cameron to put the Mayhem in front 5-4 7:32 into the third period. Former Mayhem player Dino Balsamo, however, tied it 5-5 10:32 into the final regulation period, forcing the game to overtime.
“Some goals were scored by both teams, but they were hard points to get,” Desjardins said. “They had to earn their goals and we had to earn ours.”
Neither team coasted to the finish, however. In the final ten minutes, each team had a pair of power-play chances, both coming up empty each time.
Macon and Knoxville wrap up their two-game set on Saturday at the Macon Coliseum with puck drop being scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
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