MACON, Ga. – Putting pucks on the net and goals on the scoreboard was not the issue for the Macon Mayhem on Friday night against Fayetteville. Special teams and goals being yielded, however, was in a 6-4 loss to the Marksmen as Matt McNair had a hat trick for the visitors.
Despite scoring just 97 seconds into the game and putting 37 shots on goal against Fayetteville goalie Conor O’Brien in his SPHL debut, the Mayhem would be undone by special teams in allowing two power-play goals and another just seconds after Fayetteville came off a power play. The Marksmen were 2-for-4 on the power play with the Mayhem going 0-for-5.
“Our issue was our special teams. Special teams killed us. That’s all there is to it,” Mayhem head coach Nick Niedert said. “Our power play tried to be too cute, and their penalty kill did a phenomenal job. They forced it all over the place. We didn’t move the puck quickly and didn’t communicate. We literally did it to ourselves, and it was our special teams that killed us.”
But the crowd was Bumpin’ #BattleEveryShift pic.twitter.com/q4eFjoMg4g
— Macon Mayhem (@MaconMayhem) December 31, 2022
Up 1-0 following the early goal after Aaron Aragon willed a loose puck to the right of the Marksmen net in for a 1-0 lead, the Fayetteville got goals from McNair and Vincenzo Renda at 2:59 and 16:49 to go up 2-1.
The rest of the night would be marked by Fayetteville moving its lead multiple-goal advantages and the Mayhem bouncing back. Drake Glover made it 3-1 in favor of Fayetteville, but the Mayhem answered when Jacob Ratcliffe blasted a slap shot from the slot to cut the lead to 3-2 at 6:02 of the second before Glover’s second goal of the game moved the edge back to 4-2 going into the third period.
McNair’s second goal of the night 6:20 into the third gave the Marksmen a seemingly insurmountable lead, up 5-2 with less than 14:00 to play, but the Mayhem hardly rolled over.
“The thing I’m happy with is we went down 5-2 in the third, and guys battled back,” Niedert said.
Within three minutes, goals by Rhett Kingston and Tommy Munichiello closed the Marksmen lead to 5-4 at 8:27 of the final period. That momentum would be stunted shortly after. A Brett Radford tripping penalty would loom large, as Fayetteville used it to get a 6-4 lead on a power-play by McNair for what ended up being the final margin.
In Macon’s last four losses, it has scored four goals in all but one of them.
“We score eight goals in two games, and we should have a point,” Niedert said.
The Mayhem’s goalie rotation entered Friday after a bit of roster movement. Cam Gray, who got the win last weekend against Birmingham, was no longer with the team following the end of a five-game PTO with the team, and Tom Aubrun was traded to Roanoke earlier in the week.
“Cam Gray, we offered him a contract, and he decided that he wanted to go back to the ECHL. He’s in Indy right now,” Niedert said. “I can’t blame him. He wants to try and climb the ladder.”
Macon added Cody Karpinski earlier in the week, who Niedert said on Saturday would get the start against Pensacola following Josh Benson stopping 26 out of 32 shots on Friday.
“I need a goalie to step up and say, ‘this is mine,’ and I haven’t had it,” Niedert said.
Macon hosts Pensacola at 6:30 p.m. EST Saturday, with the Marksmen returning home to play Quad City. After Saturday, the Mayhem will play at home just once through Feb. 24.
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