MACON, Ga. – After a wild second period, the outcome of the game was hanging in the balance between Macon and Birmingham on Friday night.
The Mayhem simply seized the opportunity, getting a goal by Ryan Smith 1:07 into the third period to lead 4-2 and after allowing the Bulls goal shortly after, held on the rest of the way to win 4-3. Macon is now 15-3-2-1 with 33 points, six points ahead of Knoxville for first place in the SPHL. Birmingham (7-11-4-0, 18 points) has lost five in a row.
Both teams play again Saturday night in Pelham, and chances are strong that the physical back and forth resulted in 34 penalty minutes combined on both sides.
One of the biggest of those came in the second period with Macon up 1-0. Brian Bowen was called for an illegal check to the head as Alec Baer was injured and sent to the locker room. Bowen was assessed a game penalty and was out the rest of the game and due to it being a major penalty, the Bulls had an extended power play. Baer, despite blood appearing on the ice after his injury, returned to the game in the third period.
Macon weathered the storm, In fact, 34 seconds into the power play, the Bulls gave up a short-handed goal by the Mayhem with Macon leading 2-0 as Nick Minerva scored. Birmingham did find the back of the net with Logan Nelson trimming the Macon lead to 2-1 11:14 into the second on the power play, and a bounce of the puck went the way of the Bulls and past Macon goalie Jake Theut at 15:49 of the second period with Cole Stallard getting credit for the goal. Just like that, the game was tied at 2-2.
Theut stopped 20 of 23 shots while his counterpart for Birmingham, Hayden Stewart turned away 29 of the 33 shots he faced.
Macon responded, leading 3-2 by way of an Andrew Romano goal 17:25 into the second, and that ended up being the game-winner for the Mayhem.
Jason Tackett gave Macon a 1-0 first-period goal, getting a score in his first game with the team. Mason Baptista got an assist on the goal, one of two for him on Friday.
Also in the SPHL…
Knoxville 5, Huntsville 1
The Ice Bears have now won six in a row and eight straight at home following Friday’s win.
Jacob Benson had two goals to go with a hat trick and Austyn Roudebush had 26 saves for his sixth win of the season.
Brad Harrison covers the Macon Mayhem for The Sin Bin and is also the SPHL Editor. Follow or interact with him at @SinBinMayhem