MACON, Ga. – To end a most unusual of seasons, the Macon Mayhem and Pensacola Ice Flyers find themselves in familiar territory this weekend. as they will play for the President’s Cup title.
While the Mayhem will be seeking their second title in four postseasons, the Ice Flyers will be after their fourth President’s Cup title overall.
Final Regular Season Records:
Macon Mayhem: 32-6-4, 68 points, first in SPHL
Pensacola Ice Flyers: 18-18-6, 42 points, third in SPHL
How They Got Here:
President’s Cup Semifinals Results
Pensacola Ice Flyers: Swept Knoxville, 2-0
Macon Mayhem: Swept Huntsville, 2-0
Series Schedule: (Home Team in BOLD CAPS and all times local):
Game 1 – Friday, May 14 – Macon at PENSACOLA – 7:05 pm CT
Game 2 – Saturday, May 15 – Pensacola at MACON – 7:30 pm ET
*Game 3 – Sunday, May 16 – Pensacola at MACON – 4:00 pm ET
* => If Necessary
Season Series Recap
There’s no other way to say it. Macon had its way with Pensacola in the regular season and matched up well with the Ice Flyers. The result was the Mayhem being unbeaten in regulation against the Ice Flyers. Perhaps the most lopsided stretch came April 8-9 in Macon where the Mayhem won 5-0 and 9-3. In both contests, Pensacola’s starting goalie was pulled, leaving their backup to finish the remainder of each contest.
But if there’s something for the Ice Flyers to hang their hat on from that weekend, it is this. The way that they responded a weekend later in Macon, playing much more determined, even in 3-1 and 5-3 losses. That set of games ended up setting the tone for Pensacola’s late-season run, as they would win four of their final six contests after that to close the regular season out to earn the third seed prior to upsetting second-seeded Knoxville in the President’s Cup Semifinals.
Macon goalie Jake Theut has played some of his best hockey against Pensacola. He has three shutouts this year, all of which have come against the Ice Flyers.
How Macon Wins…
It all obviously starts in net with Theut. The Macon netminder has played well against Pensacola, and Macon will need him to continue to do that again, or Ryan Ruck should Mayhem head coach Kevin Kerr opt to shuffle things in net.
The Mayhem need to play well out of the gate. Pensacola took control early in its series against Knoxville by jumping on the Ice Bears early on. When you play a team that’s a lower seed, the worst thing that you can do is give that underdog belief that it can spring the upset. For that reason, Macon needs its top scoring line consisting of Mason Baptista and Brian Bowen to strike early and gain an early advantage. The Mayhem did exactly that in the opening game against Huntsville, scoring twice in the first period to lead 2-1 and go on to win the series opener, 4-1. They’ll need to do the same again against Pensacola.
How Pensacola Wins
This is a best-of-three series, much to the chagrin of many fans around the league. That said, it could work in Pensacola’s favor. Best-of-three series play perfectly into the hands of a goalie that can play lights out over a few games. That’s where Pensacola goalie Jake Kupsky factors in. He snagged a pair of wins to open the playoffs, giving up two goals a game. He’ll need to continue to keep the Ice Flyers in a position to win for Pensacola to have a chance to win.
Given their late-season run and first-round sweep, this is a Pensacola team that believes it can win. It also has the likes of Nick Neville, Alec Hagaman, Jordan Ernst, and Darren McCormick, who after chasing a title and coming up short in Peoria, are no doubt hungry to cash in this time by.
Nothing would help that confidence more than by doing what Pensacola did early on against Knoxville and score multiple goals early on.