MACON, Ga. – Two months down, two to go. Roughly two months remain in the 2020-21 SPHL season, and the fine-tuning to get set for the final run to the end of the season is starting to take shape across the league.
Here’s the latest from across the league in the SPHL Rundown.
Thursday, Feb. 25
Macon 4, Huntsville 3 (OT)
Pensacola 3, Birmingham 2 (OT)
Friday, Feb. 26
Knoxville 2, Pensacola 0
Macon 4, Huntsville 1
Saturday, Feb. 27
Knoxville 4, Pensacola 1
Huntsville 5, Birmingham 2
Tuesday, March 2
Macon 3, Pensacola 2
Three Stars of the Week
⭐ Austyn Roudebush, Knoxville: He signed with the Ice Bears just in time for the weekend. All he did was post his second career SPHL shutout on Friday and also allow a single goal a night later to lead Knoxville to a pair of wins against Pensacola.
⭐⭐ Rob Darrar, Huntsville: He was the epitome of finding a way to impact the offensive end last weekend for the Havoc. In three games, he had two goals and five assists for a plus-five plus-minus rating.
⭐⭐⭐ Mason Baptista, Macon: In just two games, both against Huntsville, he had four goals including a hat trick in Thursday’s dramatic comeback against Huntsville, burying the game-tying score, and the game-winner in overtime.
Around The League…
All Going the Mayhem’s Way
At this point, due to its roster makeup and having avoiding significant injuries and ECHL call-ups, it’s hard to argue that Macon is the team to beat each night in the SPHL. Winners of its last eight, Macon has strong group of scorers with the likes of Max Cook, and Stephen Pierog on the roster. When you add in the presence of Mason Baptista and now Brian Bowen returning from injury, there’s no shortage of scorers on the Macon roster, and its ability to rally back was shown in recent days. Not only did the Mayhem come back to win 3-2 on Tuesday against Pensacola after trailing 1-0. More dramatically was Thursday’s 4-3 thriller against Huntsville, coming back from down 3-0 to tie it at the buzzer on a goal by Baptista prior to his game-winner in overtime. There’s a whole lot of hockey left to be played. But right now, Macon is the team to beat.
Battling Injuries in Pensacola
The Ice Flyers may as well be seeking a reset button for a part of their scoring lines. Earlier this week, a pair of forwards, Alec Marsh and Patrick Megennety were placed on season-ending injured reserve, effectively ending their seasons and striking a blow to the depth of the Pensacola forwards.
The good news is that all is not lost for Pensacola. Jake Wahlin continues to be one of the league’s top forwards with 17 points in as many games, and Darren McCormick’s veteran play is also translating to finding away to get the puck in the back of the net along with strong center play from Eddie Matsushima.
That scoring will be leaned on going forward as Pensacola seeks to snap out of a cold snap in which it has lost six of seven.
Havoc Packing a Scoring Punch
Huntsville has picked up points in three of its last four games, and its goal-scoring is a big reason why. In their last five games, the Havoc have scored less than three goals just once. That ability was shown in a large way on Saturday against Birmingham. A night after a 4-1 loss to Macon, Huntsville rebound with a 5-2 win against Birmingham with John Schiavo having a hat trick and Isaac Johnson scoring twice. When you have play like that to go with Rob Darrar helping to make things happen with the puck, odds are good that you’ll score a good number of goals.
Ice Bears Hitting Their Stride
If not for Macon, Knoxville would be the hottest team in the SPHL. Aside from a pair of close losses to the Mayhem two weekends ago, the Ice Bears have won their past five games with balanced scoring at goaltending that keeps Knoxville in a position to win. When the season began, one observation was that this team had one of the best groups of scorers in the league but needed goaltending to match that. If the goalie play from recent games keeps up, the Ice Bears could be set up nicely for a run toward the President’s Cup.
Bulls Taking Advantage of Power Play
When the power play occurs, good things tend to take place for the Birmingham Bulls. With a percentage of 19 percent, the Bulls have the top power-play unit in the league. In addition, Logan Nelson and Cole Stallard have each scored twice on the power-play this season, tying them for the league lead in that category.
Stat of the Week
9 – The number of times this year that Huntsville has won when scoring the game’s first goal, the best mark of any team in the league.
Thursday, March 4
Knoxville at Birmingham, 7:30 p.m. CST Listen LIVE on The Sin Bin app
Friday, March 5
Pensacola at Macon, 7:30 p.m. EST Listen LIVE on The Sin Bin app
Huntsville at Knoxville, 7:35 p.m. EST
Saturday, March 6
Huntsville at Macon, 6:30 p.m. EST Listen LIVE on The Sin Bin app
Pensacola at Birmingham, 7:00 p.m. CST Listen LIVE on The Sin Bin app
Sunday, March 7
Macon at Knoxville, 3:00 p.m. CST