MACON, Ga – There’ll be a new king of hill in the SPHL.
The Macon Mayhem put an end to the two-postseason reign of the Huntsville Havoc, scraping out a 2-1 win on Saturday night at the Macon Coliseum to claim a hard-fought 2-0 series sweep in the SPHL President’s Cup Semifinals.
“We talked about that. They weren’t going to go away,” Mayhem head coach Kevin Kerr said of Huntsville. “They have guys in that room that are defending champs for a reason and know how to win and have been there before with their backs to the wall. We knew it’d be a hard game.”
Up next? The President’s Cup Finals against Pensacola, where Macon will hold home ice in the best-of-three series. Macon dominated the regular-season series between the teams going 10-2-2 against the Ice Flyers.
Game one of the series is Friday at 7:05 p.m. in Pensacola with game two at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Macon. The third game, if needed, is at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Saturday’s game was a classic postseason showdown, with Macon’s Jake Theut and Huntsville’s Max Milosek putting on a defensive showcase on both ends of the ice. Through the game’s first 38 combined minutes, both goalies had an answer for anything that the opposition threw at them, keeping the contest scoreless.
Milosek stopped 38 of 40 shots with Theut turned away all but one of the 24 shots he faced.
“(Theut) played great,” Kerr said. “We’ll go to the finals and see what happens.”
Just before the second intermission, however, all of that changed with both teams exchanging goals 26 seconds apart.
Huntsville got on the board first when Alex Berardinelli broke free, slapping a shot past Theut 18:52 into the second period. Macon generated a scoring try off the face off, and when a deflection bounced in front of the crease, Brian Bowen was in perfect position to chip it past Milosek to tie the game at 1-1 and amplify the energetic crowd.
Coming into the third period, the game was hanging in the balance. Ryan Smith, however, put Macon in front. Receiving a perfectly placed pass from Nate Kallen, he scored what would be the go-ahead goal. From there, Macon turned back Havoc opportunity after opportunity, including a flurry of shots in the final minute with the Havoc pulling Milosek for an extra attacker.
“They’re a great hockey team. it could have gone either way,” Kerr said.
Now, Macon moves on, aiming for its second President’s Cup title in four postseasons.