MACON, Ga. – Sometimes, when a team goes on a penalty kill during a close game, it can be detrimental.
Things worked out the other way around for the Macon Mayhem for the second time in as many days against Knoxville.
Ray Brice’s shorthanded goal at 12:54 of the third period ended up being the game-winner on Sunday afternoon for the Mayhem as they completed a six-point weekend with a 2-1 win over the Ice Bears. Brice also scored a short-handed goal in Saturday’s overtime win against Knoxville.
“They were just opportunistic-type goals,” Mayhem head coach Kevin Kerr said. “We were able to capitalize on it. Hats off to our guys, they really battled.”
Macon, which has currently played at least two fewer games than any other team in the league (10-2-1-1, 22 points), remains atop the SPHL standings.
The short-handed goal was not the only special-teams win for Macon on Sunday. Hopes of a Knoxville power-play goal were turned away in the second period when back-to-back minor penalties against Macon’s Josh Victor and Oscar Arfelt resulted in a pair of successful penalty kills for the Mayhem.
“Obviously, we battled hard with having three games in three nights,” Kerr said. “It can be tough, sometimes. The guys battled and competed hard.”
A night after Macon goalie Jake Theut held the Ice Bears to a single goal, Ryan Ruck was up to the task on Sunday, turning away 36 out of 37 shots. It was the best outing of the season for Ruck, who has won two of his three starts for the Mayhem. Sunday was his first appearance in net since February 5.
“We’ve got two solid goaltenders that can play on any given night,” Kerr said. “We have two guys that can go out and stop pucks.”
The only blemish for Ruck was a goal allowed 2:43 into the second period with Jacob Benson scoring off an assist from Brady Fleurent and Anthony McVeigh. The score came after Macon opened the scoring just 5:02 into the game. With the puck shot on the Knoxville goal, it deflected off of Ice Bears goalie Peter Di Salvo, and Andrew Romano was in the perfect position for the opening score with Jimmy Soper and Mason Baptista getting an assist. Baptista also assisted on Brice’s game-winning goal. It was his first multi-assist game for Macon, for which he also now has in five of his past six games.
Di Salvo showed little sign of fatigue in spite of playing for the third day in a row, stopping 31 out of 33 shots. Di Salvo has been strong as a late for the Ice Bears, giving up no more than two goals in his past five games. For all intents and purposes, Di Salvo is Knoxville’s de facto number one goalie, having now started 11 of the team’s 16 games.
Three Stars of the Game
⭐ Ray Brice, Macon – His second short-handed goal in as many games was the game-winner.
⭐⭐ Ryan Ruck, Macon -The Mayhem goalie stopped 36 of 37 shots.
⭐⭐⭐ Andrew Romano, Macon – His first-period goal gave the Mayhem early momentum and more importantly, an early lead.
Baptista’s plus-two plus-minus rating on Sunday was the best of anyone on both sides…Knoxville is the only team to beat Macon at the Macon Coliseum in regulation this season…Macon defenseman Casey Johnson’s six points are tied for the most among rookie defensemen…Thursday will be the first matchup between Macon and Huntsville on the Mayhem’s home ice this season…Macon has killed off a league-best 95 percent of power plays.
Also in the SPHL
Huntsville exploded for six second-period goals to beat an injury-plagued Pensacola team, 6-3. Matthew Barnaby scored three goals in the second period alone with other goals in the second coming from Josh Bowes, Tommy Besinger, and Bryan Arneson.
Taylor Pryce scored in the first for Pensacola with Garrett Milan and Jake Wahlin getting on the board in the final period. The Ice Flyers placed three players in injured reserve- forward Alec Hagaman and defenseman Kyle Froese to the 21-day IR and Alec Marsh to the 60-day IR. Forward Patrick Megannety has also been moved from the 21-day to the 30-day IR.
Macon hosts Huntsville on Thursday and Knoxville hosts Pensacola on Friday.