FAYETTEVILLE, NC – The Fayetteville FireAntz were looking to end their five-game losing streak against the first place Macon Mayhem Friday night. The Mayhem had a different idea, however, using speed and offensive creativity to ensure the FireAntz lost their sixth in a row.
The FireAntz signed rookie forward Joe Kalisz to a three-game tryout before the game and he quickly made an impact striking first with a rebound goal off an Alex Brooks shot from the blue line at 9:28 of the first period. Kalisz was able to gain position in the slot allowing him to wrist the puck past Mayhem goalie Jordan Ruby. The lead would be short-lived however as Mayhem forward Mark Rivera scooped up a loose puck and rifled a shot past FireAntz goalie Sean Bonar just a little over two minutes later. The action was fast-paced, back and forth and up and down the ice for most of the opening frame. When Mayhem forward Dennis Sicard raced towards the FireAntz net on a breakaway before being hauled down from behind, referee Andrew Bruggeman awarded Sicard a penalty shot with just over a minute to go in the first period. Bonar would come out to challenge the penalty shot forcing Sicard to miss high over the crossbar and both teams went into the locker room tied 1-1 after one.
While the first period was pretty even, the second period saw the Mayhem take control of the game outshooting the FireAntz 11-5 and outscoring them 2-0 in the period. The league leader in points, Mayhem rookie forward John Siemer, beat Bonar high glove side at the 12:04 mark of the period and then Mayhem defenseman Daniel Echeverri put the Mayhem up 3-1 on a finish on the power play after a slick backhand pass from Siemer. Siemer would continue to find offense in the final period as he beat Bonar and a FireAntz defenseman with a tricky toe drag deke that would have found its way onto Sportscenter’s Top 10 plays of the week. The move left the Macon team fired up and the FireAntz team looking for answers on how to stop the speedy forward.
Despite a strong showing from new FireAntz forward Joe Kalisz, who scored his second goal of the game at 11:29 of the third period on a nice backhand rebound flip over Ruby, the Mayhem were too much for the FireAntz. Bonar made several great saves throughout the final two periods trying to keep his team in the game but the offensive pressure was just too much. The crowd for a moment seemed to think the FireAntz were changing the momentum and going for the comeback win when forward Daniel Vernace scored a goal at the 17:20 mark of the third period to make the score 5-3. Soon after, the FireAntz pulled Bonar and were awarded a power play but were unable to take advantage of the 6-on-4 advantage despite getting several good chances on Ruby, including one that saw the puck trickle in between his legs and towards the goal line before being knocked away by a Mayhem defenseman.
Mayhem star forward John Siemer finished the game with two goals and two assists while new FireAntz forward Joe Kalisz made a good first impression with two goals. Ex-FireAntz forward Ryan Salkeld, who was waived by coach Jeff Bes last week, got some revenge and scored a goal and picked up an assist after being signed to a three-game tryout by the Mayhem before the game. Mayhem goalie Jordan Ruby stopped 26 of 29 shots to take his team’s record to 9-1-1 on the season and remain atop the league. The FireAntz Sean Bonar stopped 23 of 28 shots on the night, and falling to 3-5 on the season. Overall, this is the FireAntz sixth straight loss after opening up the season with three straight wins. The Fireantz play host to the expansion Evansville Thunderbolts Sunday afternoon in a battle of the bottom two teams in the league.
Sin Bin FireAntz Three Stars:
1st Star: John Siemer (2 goals, 2 assists)
2nd Star: Joe Kalisz (2 goals)
3rd Star: Ryan Salkeld (1 goal, 1 assist)