KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Ice Bears have kept up their strong play as of recent weeks. Knoxville split their two-game series with the Huntsville Havoc, losing at home 4-3 in overtime on Friday night before bouncing back with an exciting 7-5 win in Huntsville on Sunday. The Ice Bears and Havoc played an exciting set of games that proved just how evenly matched the two teams are.
Knoxville will look to keep their high level of play up as they take on the Macon Mayhem Friday night before writing the next chapter of their rivalry with Huntsville on Saturday. In the first game between Macon and Knoxville, fans should keep their eyes on the former Ice Bears who now play for Macon and the extra level of intensity they’ll bring to the game.
Let’s take a look at the Mayhem and see how their season is going so far.
Current Record: 2-4-2 – 6 Points (8th in SPHL)
Goals For Per Game: 2.00 (8th in SPHL)
Goals Against Per Game: 3.12 (7th in SPHL)
Power Play: 2/32, 6.2% (9th in SPHL)
Penalty Kill: 7/31, 77.4% (9th in SPHL)
Offensively, the Macon Mayhem is being led by a mix of old school and new school. Stephen Pierog made his return to Macon this year after spending the previous season with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL. In his return, Pierog has continued to lead the Mayhem while being extremely productive offensively. He has accounted for seven points (0G, 7A) in Macon’s eight games this year. Daniel Perez joined the Mayhem after their first two games and has been Macon’s best offensive threat ever since. In six games with the Mayhem, Perez has tallied seven points (3G, 4A). The fresh style Perez has brought out of college has been a welcomed sight for the Mayhem offense. Knoxville will need to lock down Marcus Ortiz and Danny Cesarz also because both players will be looking to make a statement against their previous team and coach.
Defensively, Macon is lead by a strong trio of Larry Smith, Zach Urban, and Jarret Kup. Smith has played in seven games for the Mayhem this season, and while he hasn’t scored a point, he has tallied 13 penalty minutes by using his large frame to dictate play on the ice. Urban has accounted for two assists in eight games this year and 19 penalty minutes, being equally as physical as Smith. Kup has been a consistent defenseman for Macon this year and has also contributed a goal in his eight games this season. For Macon to be successful, they’ll need their other defensemen to step up, including former Ice Bear Ben Campbell.
RECIPE FOR VICTORY
Knoxville has been on fire offensively as of late, scoring 20 goals in their last four games. For the Ice Bears to be successful this weekend, they just need to keep it rolling. Marly Quince and Bryce Nielsen need to continue being the offensive threats that they are. The Ice Bears lost Dwyer Tschantz to the ECHL, but with the return of Gehrett Sargis and the imminent return of Lucas Bombardier off of injured reserve, Knoxville is more than capable of keeping their goal-scoring machine going.
Defensively, Knoxville has found its blue liners and has committed to a diverse group that needs a chance to grow. Players like Alex Carlson and Charlie Granath are really starting to find their style of play on the ice, so giving them the opportunity to grow as a pairing is what is best. Knoxville will need them to start and take over the game if they want to take such a scoring load off of their forwards and give their goalie more protection.
In net, look for Hayden Stewart to once again be the guy as Michael Santaguida has gone on the 30-day IR. Stewart will look to keep building and bettering himself this weekend while also getting a win. If his defensemen can keep his vision clear and cut down on shorthanded chances, Stewart could have a really good weekend.
Editor’s Note: Knoxville defeated Macon 4-3 at the Macon Centreplex on Friday night. The Ice Bears will hit the road for the second leg of their trip where they will play in Huntsville Saturday night. Faceoff is set for 8:00 pm EST.