MACON, Ga. – If the Macon Mayhem were feeling any signs of wear and tear going into their fourth game in six days, it didn’t show on Tuesday night against Pensacola.
Macon started strong on both ends of the ice, getting one goal in the first from Stephen Pierog and another from him in the second period. With the offensive end of the ice taken care of, Hayden Stewart handled the rest, stopping all 34 shots to get the shutout.
With 36 points and a 15-23-6 record, Macon, Quad City and Birmingham are tied for seventh place, one point ahead of Roanoke. The Mayhem have five more games in hand than Quad City and three more than Birmingham.
The Mayhem have now won four of their past six contests.
Three Who Mattered
Stewart: Whether it was the three power plays, including a 5-on-3 in the first period, extra attacker late or anything else the Ice Flyers did, Stewart had an answer for it on Tuesday night for the shutout, his first in the SPHL.
Pierog: He showed why he’s one of the Mayhem’s captains on Tuesday, to say the least, scoring a pair of goals to continue his season of leading the team with 33 points so far. He got Macon on the board with less than a minute left in the first, hammering home a shot from the slot off a pass from behind the net by Danny Cesarz. In the second, he found enough open space to the right of Pensacola goalie Chase Perry to shoot it in for a 2-0 lead at the 14:16 mark.
Cesarz: Needless to say, Cesarz was happy to be back on the ice. Out since Dec. 26 with a concussion, the veteran right winger’s aggressive play on the offensive end help the Mayhem cap off a strong first period.
Ready to go: Macon started slow on Saturday night against Birmingham, falling behind 3-0 within seven minutes. Tuesday night may as well have been a polar opposite. The Mayhem put pressure on Perry early, controlled the attack zone and even won the special teams aspect in the first period in killing off a 5-on-3 advantage. Playing that well early got Macon the start that it needed, and the win was a result of that.
Specially good: With Pensacola having a 5-on-3 in the first period and a pair of power plays in the final ten minutes, it was not as if the Ice Flyers did not have chances to get on the board. But Macon tightened up on its end of the ice, negating any chance of momentum by the Ice Flyers.
“It’s huge. We obviously were not happy with how we played on Saturday night. The guys were pretty excited to get back out there and we were able to get them on their heels early.”
– Mayhem Goalie Hayden Stewart
It’s always easier to go into an intermission shortly after a goal, and Macon did just that with Pierog’s goal at 19:22 of the first period.
Macon has just three home games left this season, the next being March 10 against Knoxville…Tuesday was Mayhem center Josh Cousineau’s 300th SPHL game.
They said it
Mayhem head coach Ryan Michel on the win: “Four games in six nights, that’s always tough on your body. We kind of showed our fatigue at times and flashes of brilliance and fatigue at times. (Stewart) had a heck of a game for us.”
Michel on Macon’s first goal: “It was just hard work on the corner by (Eric) Ylitalo and a beautiful pass by Cesarz to set it up.”
Michel on killing off the 5-on-3 Pensacola advantage in the first period: “A penalty kill that you successfully do, it gives you a little bit of a boost. We had maybe a little bit too much practice, but the more you do that, it gives you a boost.”
Stewart on Tuesday’s win: “It’s huge. We obviously were not happy with how we played on Saturday night. The guys were pretty excited to get back out there and we were able to get them on their heels early.”
Stewart on his mindset toward the end of the game: “I was thinking just trying to stop the puck. I knew they were only down two goals and when they pulled the goalie at the end, they were going to come with a push. When we played them in Pensacola, they were able to tie it up.”
Macon plays at Knoxville on Friday and Birmingham on Saturday.
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