FAYETTEVILLE, NC — The Fayetteville Marksmen are coming off two of the most lopsided back-to-back losses in league history with a 10-2 defeat followed up by a 9-0 drubbing at the hands of the Macon Mayhem. These are the types of headlines teams want to steer clear of yet the Fayetteville Marksmen have seen themselves on the wrong side of too many lopsided losses so far this season.
The Marksmen have been the victims of four losses by five or more goals and four additional losses by three or more goals in their 20 games played this season. That means almost half of their games the Marksmen have lost by at least three goals. Stunning.
A silver lining in all of this is the Marksmen have proven they can beat the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs, three times so far this season, and have secured at least a point in all of this season’s five meetings. Another silver lining is that the teams play each other eight more times this season so if nothing else, the Marksmen can assure themselves at least eight more points this season, eh?
In all seriousness, the current Marksmen team is in disarray. The season began with new ownership (a welcome change), a new head coach that is fired after a short amount of time only to bring in another new head coach that makes plenty of questionable changes to the roster. It is easy to see why the team has yet to be able to gain any sort of consistency other than showing up in the loss column.
Call-ups to the ECHL have also picked apart the Marksmen roster so far this season, albeit not as bad as some other SPHL teams. We will get to that in a minute. Currently, d-men Travis Jeke, Sean Robertson, and Brad Campagna are up in the ECHL. Also, forward Max Cook and most recently starting goalie Kent Patterson have been called up to the ECHL. When you break this down, a team that has struggled with talent and depth already this season is left limping around, especially on defense. Speaking of defense, the Marksmen have given up 99 goals so far this season, just shy of five tallies allowed per game. No team is going to win many games with a stat like that.
Moving on from the Marksmen, let’s talk about some other happenings in the SPHL.
The callup bug has hit other teams in the SPHL as well this season.
The Pensacola Ice Flyers currently have a multitude of players in the ECHL. It hasn’t affected them enough to make a difference in the win column as they have won six of their last seven games.
The Peoria Rivermen, always a favorite place for ECHL teams to call for players, have also had plenty of players sent up to the ECHL. Similar to the Ice Flyers, the Rivermen have also won six of their last seven. Peoria and Pensacola are examples of what depth and talent can do for a team even when callups strike.
The wave of callups to the ECHL has affected every team in the SPHL. The Huntsville Havoc has been fortunate, with only Jack Ceglarski taking a promotion. It doesn’t mean the Havoc lack the talent for ECHL teams to come calling, however, so far this season coach Glenn Detulleo has been able to keep his team intact.
The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs fired coach Sam Ftorek after a little more than a season behind the bench of the new franchise. Veteran SPHL forward and gritty center Dan Bremner was hired to take his place. Roanoke will be Bremner’s first professional head coaching job, and the task in front of him is not an easy one. Roanoke has struggled since joining the SPHL and Bremner will be asked to make the necessary changes mid-season and get the Dawgs on the right track. Ask new Marksmen head coach Phil Esposito if that is an easy thing to do.
Meanwhile, the expansion Birmingham Bulls seem to have found some offense and thus gained some wins. The Bulls started off the season struggling to find the net, and this failed to win a game until their eighth game of the season. However, the Bulls have been able to score at least three goals in five of their last six games and have suddenly started to win. A 4-2 record over the past three weekends has them ready to climb the standings and jump the struggling Rail Yard Dawgs and Marksmen.
This weekend’s slate of games has some exciting storylines.
The Bulls come to Fayetteville to play the Marksmen in a battle of teams heading in the opposite direction. Friday night’s game will be the first-ever meeting between the two squads.
When Roanoke visits Peoria Saturday night, Roanoke’s newly hired coach Dan Bremner will be facing his old team, a team he was captain of for two seasons. If anybody knows the Peoria Rivermen and head coach Jean-Guy Trudel, it is Bremner. We shall see if that gives the Dawgs an upper hand in that game. It certainly would be an excellent exclamation point to his first weekend as a coach if he could knock off the Rivermen at Carver Arena.
Finally, the Marksmen will head back to Macon to seek revenge against the team that scored 19 goals against them this past weekend. Will Macon be able to put up a huge number for the 3rd game in a row against Fayetteville or will the Marksmen get some revenge?
Here’s hoping for a Marksmen game where we keep the opposing team below three goals this weekend. It’s only happened twice this season.