MACON, Ga. – Through their first four seasons in Macon, the Mayhem have seen a bit of everything from the fortunes of how a season can go. Now, with some new faces joining some key stalwarts on the scoring lines, Macon drops the puck on the 2019-20 season with aspirations of capturing its second President’s Cup title.
While the Mayhem claimed the SPHL title three years ago, they have seen slight regression since. The Mayhem fell in the semifinal round two years ago and the first round (previously known as the Challenge Round) a season ago. Macon’s offseason moves with second-year head coach Leo Thomas at the helm are aimed toward getting the Mayhem back toward the league’s upper echelon.
Nuts and Bolts:
Record: 27-24-5, 59 points (6th in SPHL)
Playoff Finish: Lost in First Round to Knoxville
Goals For Per Game: 2.86 (7th in SPHL)
Goals Against Per Game: 2.79 (5th in SPHL)
Power Play: 34/217, 15.7% (8th in SPHL)
Penalty Kill: 49/239, 79,5% (8th in SPHL)
Jake Trask and John Siemer. If you have followed the Macon Mayhem with any regularity in recent years, they have been part of the fabric of hockey in the Cherry Blossom Capital. As odd as it may seem, the Mayhem will take the ice without either of them, passing the mantle to a cluster of returners such as Josh Koepplinger and Caleb Cameron along with newcomers Josh Cousineau, Darius Davidson, and Stepan Timofeyev.
On the defensive end, the return of Kevin Entmaa will be focused on to help bolster things in goal after he posted a 2.84 GAA in six regular-season contests last year. He won’t be the only one to watch on the back end, where the Mayhem’s six defensemen include four from last year’s roster – led by the physical Larry Smith and Jarrett Kup, who made strides last year as a two-way threat. That defensive nucleus may be essential for Macon as it looks to build chemistry on its scoring lines.
“I see a fast team that’ll work hard and compete. We have to buy in defensively on both ends of the ice. With this team, we may not score four or five goals every night. But if we dedicate ourselves on our end and work hard, we’ll have a really solid team. So far, it’s been a good feeling and a good work ethic across the board.” –– head coach Leo Thomas
Kevin Entmaa did enough to make the most of his late-season opportunity last season, and now the goal is to deliver on the trust placed in him by the Mayhem coaching staff. If he plays at or near the level that he did late last season, Macon has a chance to build defensive stability and win a lot of games early. On the forward lines, the loss of Siemer and Trask is noticeable. That said, the blow is softer with Stathis Soumelidis and Stephen Pierog being back in Macon. For starters, both know how to win, having been part of the Mayhem’s championship club of three years ago. But they’ll also bring more than that to the lineup. Both are proven scorers, with Soumelidis being able to throw some physical muscle around when needed. Pierog brings an energy that radiates around the locker room and on the ice. If these two stay healthy and avoid a lengthy call-up to the ECHL, they’ll be a big part of Macon’s offensive output.
Gone but Not Forgotten:
Combining for a combined 109 points last year alone, undoubtedly John Siemer and Jake Trask will be missed. The departure of Dakota Klecha to the Quad City Storm, who had 23 goals in 33 games, also leaves a deficit of scoring potential and experience.
Sin Bin Swami Sez:
With top-line scorers having departed, building chemistry in this area will be vital for the Mayhem. Look for the Mayhem to improve as the season goes on and once again qualify for the SPHL President’s Cup Playoffs.