LAFAYETTE, La. – Training camp week comes to an end and teams now ready themselves for the long regular season ahead. Teams will make their final cuts on Wednesday and announce their 19-man opening-night rosters. Later this week, we will publish our season previews. Today, we have final camp updates from Knoxville and Macon.

Ice Bears Shift Focus to Regular-Season Opener

The preseason schedule has ended, and coach Jeff Carr has tough decisions to make putting together his opening night roster.
Stanislav Dzakhov is returning to the Ice Bears for his second season and has had a pretty solid training camp. In the first exhibition game, Dzakhov made the score sheet his home. In the second exhibition game, returnees Eric Ylitalo and Scott Cuthrell were the bright spots for the Ice Bears. Ylitalo’s puck handling ability and movement have been impressive during camp.
Defensively the Ice Bears are refilling their ranks after losing Doug Rose and David Brancik. Look for veteran Jason Price to have a significant role in the defense and be one of the lynchpins for success. Alex Carlson will also play a vital role for the Ice Bears. Carlson will be one of the most physical players on the ice. If he can improve his skating, Carlson may be a breakout player for the Ice Bears. Ricky Kramer will look to fill the role of Rose as the offensive threat from the blue line for the Ice Bears.
The goalie competition is one that’s too close to call. Hayden Stewart has shown he can be a solid player in this league. Cody Porter impressed in his ten games with the Ice Bears last year and has had an excellent training camp. Michael Santaguida stepped up his game in the heart of the schedule last year and has been stable ever since.

Mayhem Return to Work after Exhibition Loss

The Mayhem got back on the ice with a spirited practice on Monday after a day off on Sunday and Saturday night’s exhibition game at Birmingham.

So are the Mayhem putting much stock into the stats and final score of a 6-1 loss to the Bulls? The answer appears to be no. Macon took the ice with more of its inexperienced players, eyeing to evaluate players as the Mayhem work to whittle their roster down. For that reason, multiple players with experience were held out. Notable scratches were goalie Kevin Entmaa, forwards Danny Cesarz & Stathis Soumelidis, and defenseman Zach Urban. The way Mayhem head coach Leo Thomas sees it, these players have logged plenty of minutes for Macon, and their ability to play in the SPHL is well-known.

Macon’s roster, however, is now down to 20 players. Seth Gustin, Jiri Pestuka, Joe Young, Chad Herron, Evan Mackintosh, and Yegon Baynin have all been released. With Young’s release, the Mayhem now are down to two goalies – Entmaa and Alex Fotinos. Barring an expected injury or ECHL callup, look for Macon the start the season with these two between the pipes.

One player that’s raising eyebrows so far in camp is Stepan Timofeyev. According to coach Thomas, the St. Petersburg, Russia, product is pushing experienced players for ice time.

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