Game 1 – 4/18/18 at Huntsville Iceplex – 7:00 CT
Game 2 – 4/19/18 at Macon – 7:35 ET
Game 3 – 4/20/18 at Macon – 7:35 ET (if necessary)
Macon’s Playoffs so Far
The Macon Mayhem’s run to a second straight SPHL title got off, like last season, to a rough start. The Evansville Thunderbolts, for the first eighty minutes, played like the dominant team we saw during the first half of the season. After dropping the series opener in Evansville, the Mayhem eventually found their offense and outscored the Thunderbolts 14-1 in the series’ second and third games. Goaltender Charlie Finn (2-1, 1.01 GAA, .974 SV%) was spectacular, while the Mayhem would get goals from ten different players in their dispatching of the Thunderbolts.
Huntsville’s Playoffs so Far
The Havoc’s first-round opponent, the Mississippi RiverKings, was a familiar foe. The two teams met in the opening round last year, with the Havoc taking the series in three games. This series would also go the distance, but up to the third period in game two, it appeared the RiverKings would beat the Havoc in the postseason for the first time in three tries. Mississippi, leading 3-1 in the third period, surrendered two goals in 31 seconds as the Havoc would force overtime. Unlike the Knoxville/Pensacola triple-overtime marathon, this session of bonus hockey ended quickly, with Christian Powers game-winning goal taking the wind from the RiverKings’ sails. The deciding game three was dominated by Huntsville as the Havoc once again bested the RiverKings in the postseason.
When These Teams Played in the Regular Season
Three of the five games in the season series between the Mayhem and Havoc were high-scoring affairs. However, only one game between the teams was decided by a single goal – and also decided in overtime. Powers and Shawn Bates each scored four goals against the Mayhem. Macon’s top scorer Jake Trask picked a tree full of apples against Huntsville, gaining eight assists in five games. Special teams proved to be a big factor, with both teams combining for 15 power play goals.
Macon’s Keys to Winning
- Get production from the role-players. Forwards Stathis Soumelidis, Dylan Vander Esch, and Kevin Irwin were big factors in the Mayhem’s win over Evansville. Look for this trio to continue playing at a high level in this series.
- Be mentally prepared for game one. The opening game will be at the Huntsville Iceplex, a 500-seat venue, rather than the Von Braun Center. The small facility will be a loud and raucous setting.
- Keep up the stellar play of Finn. Last year, the Mayhem rode the goaltending of Jordan Ruby to a championship. Finn will have to continue his excellent play against Huntsville.
Huntsville’s Keys to Winning
- Win the defensive battle in the offensive zone. Both teams feature blueliners who can score. Stuart Stefan, Nolan Kaiser, and Anthony Calabrese have the ability to quarterback the offensive attack and need to be factors in this series.
- Stay powered up. Powers has quickly become a clutch performer for the Havoc in big games and has been very successful against Macon this year.
- While tempting, avoid letting the series turn into a track meet. Both teams skate well and have the ability to score goals in quick succession. The speed game, however, favors the high-scoring Mayhem and the Havoc need to slow them down.
Sin Bin Swami Sez
These are two extremely well-matched teams with similar skill sets. This series will have the Havoc once again playing three games in three nights. As I expect this series to go the distance, fatigue may be a factor for Huntsville. However, I’m contractually obligated to pick against Macon – so it’s the Havoc in three.
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