MACON, Ga. – With the pieces falling further into place, the Macon Mayhem are moving forward into a season that figures to be full of both intrigue and one of the most overused words of the year 2020 – ‘unprecedented.’
One of five SPHL teams moving forward with plans to continue playing, the Mayhem start the season December 28 at Huntsville and drop the puck at home January 2 against Birmingham.
With the SPHL this season only being comprised of Macon, Knoxville, Pensacola, Huntsville, and Birmingham, longer road trips to cities such as Roanoke, Fayetteville, and even the lesser-taken treks to Peoria, Evansville, and Quad City are out.
“It hurts to see five of your business partners going through this right now,” said Blair Floyd, General Manager of the Macon Mayhem.
While the Mayhem acknowledge what the toll of not playing will put on teams opting out this year, the upshot is that the arrangement will also mean shorter road trips. Between the four teams opposing Macon in this year’s shortened season, just one, Pensacola, is more than a five-hour drive from Macon. By comparison, none of the teams opting out this year are within five hours distance-wise.
As a result, look for fewer overnight stays being needed for the Mayhem this season, equating to more there and back trips on gamedays.
Just twice this year, Macon will play road games in back-to-back nights – March 12-13 at Birmingham and March 26-27 at Pensacola. Macon will also play back-to-back home games in successive days seven times in 2020-21.
“We’re eliminating a lot of hotel nights, we’re expecting a lot of up and back trips,” Floyd said. “There’s lots of cost savings, but we’re also sacrificing some weekend dates with a short season.”
With five teams opting out, Macon’s roster is already being bolstered with players from one of those teams. With players from five teams all of a sudden available, even for one season only, the push to add players across the league may as well be a hockey version of the Oklahoma Land Rush.
In the past week, Macon has added a trio of players from one of last season’s top teams in the SPHL – Fayetteville.
It began early this week with the pickup of Brian Bowen, the league leader in goals last season with 30 and second with 58 points. Macon was hardly done, added on not only defenseman Josh Victor after posting a plus-minus rating of plus-15 a season ago, but goalie Blake Wojtala, fourth in the SPHL last year with a 2.63 goals-against average.
“The pool for players is going to be outrageous this year,” Floyd said. “We’re going to see the best hockey that the SPHL has ever had this year.”
Brad Harrison is the SPHL Editor for The Sin Bin. Follow Brad on Twitter for the latest on the SPHL and the Macon Mayhem! Also, follow The Sin Bin on both Facebook and Twitter for complete minor league hockey coverage!