MACON, Ga. – The Macon Mayhem found multiple ways to play winning hockey over the weekend. The end result was the same in successive nights. After overpowering Knoxville to win 7-2 on Friday, Macon’s defensive effort took center stage on Saturday with Max Cook winning it for the Mayhem 2-1 in overtime with 46 seconds left against Birmingham.
The Mayhem have won three out of four since returning to play following the league’s safety protocols. Overall, Macon is 5-1-1-1 with 12 points, tied for third among the SPHL’s five participating teams despite having played the fewest games. The Bulls salvaged a point a night after being blanked by Huntsville, 7-0.
The Mayhem play their next four games on the road, beginning Thursday at Birmingham and returning home on Feb. 20 against Knoxville.
Macon earned its weekend sweep by showcasing both of its goalies. On Friday, Ryan Ruck got the nod in goal and was up to the task, stopping 15 of 17 shots in his second appearance of the season. Jake Theut, who has gotten the bulk of the starts in net for the Mayhem so far this year, resumed the reins on Saturday against Birmingham, turning away 25 out of 26 shots.
Max Cook posted a pair of goals in both games and had four points for the weekend, helping to blow things open on Friday as the Mayhem scored four answered goals after Knoxville trimmed the Macon lead to 3-2.
His score on Saturday night turned out to be more consequential. In overtime, with the segment in its final minute, he slammed the puck past Birmingham goalie Hayden Stewart to win it. The goal came after a scoreless first and second period and the Bulls leading 1-0 12 seconds into the third period on a power-play goal by Cole Stallard. Macon came back, however, with Paul Meyer ripping the puck past Stewart 4:56 into the third.
As low-scoring as Saturday night was for the Mayhem, Friday’s win was the opposite.
Jimmy Soper, getting an assist from Cook, put Macon up 1-0 within the first two minutes, and Mason Baptista‘s first goal with the Mayhem, later followed by one from Derek Topatigh extended the advantage to 3-1. Baptista had three points in the weekend’s pair of games.
Then, after the Ice Bears’ Austin Plevy struck in the third to shorten Macon’s lead to 3-2, Coomes scored 10:48 into the third before unassisted markers by Cook and Baptista preceded the game’s final goal at 16:31 with Jared Bethune scoring with Baptista and Gabe Guertler assisting.
Macon has earned a point in every game except one this season…Gabe Guertler leads the Mayhem in scoring with eight points…Macon’s penalty kill is still rated strong despite giving up a goal on Saturday as a 91 percent rate is second-best in the league…Friday and Saturday’s games were Macon’s first on back-to-back nights since Jan. 2 and 3.
Macon goes on the road Thursday to play Birmingham.
Brad Harrison covers the Macon Mayhem for The Sin Bin and is also the SPHL editor. Follow and interact with him at @SinBinMayhem