MACON, Ga. – Both Macon and Birmingham entered Thursday night on winning streaks. By the time it was said and done, the Mayhem came away from the Macon Coliseum looking to recapture the form of last weekend as the Bulls came away with a 3-0 shutout victory.
Birmingham’s win keeps it on track to remain in second place with a 28-14-3 record and 59 points. Macon drops to 9-30-2 overall. The loss came on the heels of two wins in a row last weekend against Quad City and Pensacola, where the Mayhem scored a combined 12 goals. That offensive production was a distant memory on Thursday for Macon, as it was shutout for the first time since Dec. 10.
“To know that some people give everything they can and it doesn’t translate, it’s frustrating. The excuses have to stop. It’s very frustrating to see what we could turn into. Look at us last weekend and then tonight. Where was the urgency?” Mayhem head coach Nick Niedert said. “There was no urgency. There was a lot of, ‘well, we just came off a good weekend’ mentality. Confidence was high, which was great, and I love that, but we just need a spark.”
The Mayhem host Huntsville on Friday and Knoxville on Saturday.
“Now, we have Huntsville coming in here (Friday),” Niedert said. “A veteran, good team that knows how to play on the road. It won’t be easy, we have to respond.”
The defeat came as Macon managed just 24 shots against Birmingham goalie Ben Churchfield. Macon goalie Trevor Martin had a much busier night, and faced 48 shots of which three got past him, one on a penalty shot. Among his saves was a diving glove save in the final two minutes when the game was well decided.
“Our goaltending played great,” Niedert said. “That showed his compete level. He didn’t give up on the play. A couple of guys did, but he didn’t. He’s played really good hockey. I like his game, it’s unfortunate that it got wasted away.”
Niedert acknowledged one factor that both teams had to deal with – the ice conditions at the Macon Coliseum. Birmingham did a better job of dealing with the issue of the playing surface, getting a goal past Martin from the left by Mike Davis 6:17 into the contest. The ice conditions made generating offensive flow a challenge, but Birmingham found a way to extend its lead 16:40 into the second thanks to Matt Wiesner and a third-period penalty shot from Artur Terchiyev that got by Martin on the left.
“It was probably the slowest game this league has ever seen, hands down. We had the issue with the ice, both teams had to play on it, so it’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact. Both teams were sluggish and couldn’t move the puck. It was just sloppy. That probably had to be one of the worst-played SPHL games of the season, probably,” Niedert said. “Neither team could get anything going. You couldn’t skate. They had to play on it too, and they’re, I’m sure, probably happy with how it panned out for them but not happy with how it got there.”
Not our night… #BattleEveryShift pic.twitter.com/ZKbMxW2sYX
— Macon Mayhem (@MaconMayhem) March 3, 2023
The penalty shot made it 3-0, plenty of cushion with 9:58 to play against a Macon team that had a handful of scoring chances and was 0-for-6 on the power play, including coming up empty twice in the first period.
In addition to this weekend’s upcoming games for Macon, there’s another factor looming – roster management. With the potential trickle-down from this week’s NHL trade deadline to the ECHL rosters, where Macon has a handful of players playing, and with Monday’s SPHL trade deadline, a roster version of musical chairs may be brewing for some teams. That wasn’t lost on Niedert Thursday night.
“Two days before the trade deadline, and this happens? I have 10-11 up right now (in the ECHL), and the NHL deadline is (Friday), and then they’ll start bringing college guys in,” Niedert said. “I’ll bet you I’ll have about eight of those guys back in the next three days, and for the performance that we had and to be flat, there’s no excuse.”
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