Macon may as well have been playing an opponent donning a doctor’s scrubs Sunday.
The Mayhem got well in a big way, snapping a three-game winless streak by starting with a quick scoring surge to win 5-1 over Knoxville and retake the lead in the SPHL standings by a point ahead of Huntsville.
Less than 24 hours after surrendering a season-high seven goals, Macon once again turned to Mike DeLaVergne in goal, and he shined, stopping 23-of-24 shots to come within 87 seconds of posting a shutout. It was also his first professional win.
Scoring began quickly for the Mayhem (31-10-6). Goals by John Siemer, Collin MacDonald and Michael Holland within 79 seconds made it 3-0, and Stephen Pierog added another for a 4-0 lead less than 10 minutes after the game began.
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Five who mattered
Siemer: If there was any doubt about lingering doldrums for Macon from Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Columbus, that thought was squashed by Siemer. He skated in and beat Knoxville goalie Dylan Wells, shooting the puck past him as he crossed in front of the net 2:30 into the game for his team-leading 15th goal.
MacDonald: Fans hadn’t even sat down after the game’s first score when MacDonald made it a 2-0 game just 39 seconds later, taking a pass from Daniel Gentzler. He added another tally in the third period for his second score of the game.
Holland: The defenseman added another early goal just 30 seconds later, putting the puck in the top right corner of the net for his first professional goal, one day after being signed by the Mayhem.
Pierog: His play made it an even better start for the Mayhem. A power-play score 9:56 into the first period made it a 4-0 Mayhem lead less than 10 minutes after the game began.
DeLaVergne: Few players summed up putting Saturday’s loss behind them than DeLaVergne. Charged with protecting an early lead, Macon’s goalie, signed to a three-day tryout Thursday after being released by Atlanta of the ECHL, did not disappoint, having an answer for all but one Knoxville shot.
Starting quick: A common thread in Macon’s previous three games, all losses to Columbus, was the way that the game began, not to mention the Mayhem trailing at the beginning of each one and having to use up energy to rally back to be in position to win. That was not the case Sunday with the quick flurry of goals for a Mayhem team that was sixth in the league in first-period goals scored. For a team in bad need of a win, setting a big early tone was probably the best thing that could have happened to them.
Missing Ice Bears: Knoxville was without its head coach and team captain Sunday against Macon. Head coach Mike Craigen was serving the third of of his four-game suspension with Jason Price being suspended for the rest of the regular season and playoffs following an incident March 11 against Huntsville when a puck was fired into the Havoc’s bench.
Standings update: After picking up three of six possible points during the weekend, Macon leads the SPHL standings with 68 points, one ahead of Huntsville, two in front of Fayetteville and four in front of Peoria. Macon has four remaining games against Huntsville, including three on the road, with one road game yet to be played against Fayetteville.
They said it
Siemer on the start: “We’ve been getting those chances earlier in the previous games, the puck luck just wasn’t there. (Sunday) it just seemed like things were bouncing our way, but that has a lot to do with our drive. Even though we went down a few goals in the past couple of games, we never stopped working, and that paid off (Sunday).”
Siemer on bouncing back from Saturday’s loss: “Those kind of games happen, and it kind of helped us out. Sometimes you need those kind of games to snap out of it and get back on track again.”
Siemer on the game plan early on: “We were just sticking to the game plan. We were hard on pucks, cutting off lanes and picking up the guys we needed to and getting back to out zone hard.”
DeLaVergne on getting the win: “Especially after (Saturday) it’s good to get a win - a first professional win and hopefully many more.”
DeLaVergne on the comfort level of a multi-goal lead as a goalie: “We don’t really focus much on the score, we just focus on doing our job. My job is stopping the puck.”
DeLaVergne on his mindset after allowing seven goals Saturday: “What happened (Saturday) happened. All you can do is prepare for the next day and focus on one at a time.”
The Mayhem have a three-game series next weekend against Huntsville, playing on the road Friday and Saturday and at home Sunday.