MACON, Ga. – It was a frequent occurrence last weekend at the Macon Coliseum.
Each time Josh Koepplinger blasted through the gates of the world of pro hockey by scoring a goal, his arms raised high with jubilation.
It was a frequent sight in Macon’s game on Thursday against Birmingham and on Friday and Saturday against Fayetteville, a stretch in which Koepplinger scored five goals and totaled eight points – good enough to be named the SPHL’s Player of the Week.
Just days after signing with Macon after scoring double digits in goals in each of the past four years with Lawrence University, the Saginaw, Michigan native wasted little time in emerging on the scene with the Mayhem.
“He’s a very smart player and knows where to go on the ice,” Macon head coach Leo Thomas said. “That’s showing right now in his first couple of games on the ice.”
That did indeed show for Macon, even in last weekend’s stretch that began with a loss to Birmingham. A bright spot in that loss was Koepplinger’s first pro goal.
“At the time he was coming in, we weren’t really playing good hockey,” Thomas said. “Sometimes, you are looking for a spark in your lineup. I knew I needed a shooter and goal score we were able to find one with him.”
As it turns out, he was just getting started. By the time the weekend was over, he had scored five goals and eight points in just his first three games with Macon. The cherry on the top was Saturday night’s showing as he played in a role in all five Mayhem goals in a 5-1 Macon victory.
“I just want to convert in opportunities and get to spots where I can score,” Koepplinger said. “It’s all on my teammates, they’re giving me opportunities to put the puck in the net.”
Koepplinger’s success, however, did not exactly come out of nowhere.
In fact, Thomas was not hesitant to put the rookie in the spotlight – placing him on the same scoring line with Macon’s leading scorers Jake Trask and John Siemer. To say that the combo of the three worked well last weekend is an understatement. One of Koepplinger’s two goals on Friday included Trask getting the assist. On Saturday? First, it was Siemer and Trask’s goals to break a 1-1 tie, both of which had Koeppinger on the assist.
“Honestly, playing with really good teammates, we found some chemistry early on and it’s started to build,” Koepplinger said.
The chemistry of the three was underscored on the game’s final goal with Koeppinger scoring with both Siemer and Trask helping.
“He has a really good shot,” Thomas said of Koepplinger. “ Him, Trask and Siemer seem to be gelling really well. Obviously, I’m not going to be breaking that line up any time soon.”
With Koepplinger coming off his big opening weekend and the addition of Danny Cesarz this week via trade, the Mayhem look for another big weekend, this time at Fayetteville before a pair of games at home next weekend against Huntsville.