North Bay Ontario is many miles from Macon, but two of North Bay’s native sons ended up leading Middle Georgia’s only professional sports team this past season.
Twenty-seven-year-old defenseman Curtis Megginson captained the Macon Mayhem in their inaugural season of pro hockey, and in 44 games during the 2015-2016 regular season, Megginson scored a goal and had five assists. His contribution to the team was more than just his numbers on the ice, as he had to be a strong vocal presence and lead by example.
“He brought leadership and calmness to the team,” said head coach Kevin Kerr, who is also from North Bay. “He could settle his teammates down with his play on the ice and on the bench, as well. He led by example, was a team-first player and was great in the community and with the fans.”
Megginson’s love of the game started at an early age back in North Bay.
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“(North Bay) was a pretty small town, 50,000 people, but there were five hockey arenas,” he said. “Everybody you go to school with and everyone you talk to plays hockey. As soon as you got out of school, you would go and play hockey. Everyone in the neighborhood would play so it was easy to fall into.”
In 2010, Megginson signed with the Augusta Riverhawks of the SPHL, where he would play for three seasons. After the suspension of the Riverhawks operations in 2013, Megginson signed with the short-lived Bloomington Thunder, also in the SPHL. In 2014-15 Megginson played for the Huntsville Havoc, and it was there he met his girlfriend Rachel and found himself a home away from home.
“I really like it here; I have family here now,” Megginson said. “I call them family anyway.”
When Megginson learned that the ownership of the Augusta franchise was relocating to Macon, he jumped at the opportunity to return to the team. The Mayhem are owned by Bob and Diane Kerzner, who owned the team when Megginson played in Augusta.
“They always treated us well,” Megginson said. “Bob said he was going to give you something, he always would. Diane was always there, always showed up with a smile on her face and was always happy. I had a really good relationship with the Kerzners, and Diane always, even my first year, I would always see her out in the hallway, I would go give her a hug, and six years later, I was still doing the same thing.
“It was cool building a relationship with them, and they took care of me.”
At the end of the 2015-16 SPHL playoffs, Megginson announced that he is retiring, but he has not yet thought a great deal about his walking away from the game.
“It still hasn’t really hit me yet,” Megginson said. “I’m just spending the summer at the lake house, relaxing and letting my body recuperate.”
“He was such a gentleman off the ice, very friendly and personable” Diane Kerzner said of Megginson. “His whole family was great when they came to visit. We’ll miss him. It’s sad not to have him playing for us anymore.”
Looking back on his time in Macon, Megginson is pleased with how the new team was welcomed by the community. The Mayhem return to the ice Oct. 21 when they face off with Columbus to open the 2016-17 season.
“My favorite part was the fans,” Megginson said. “They went awhile without hockey, and just seeing how excited they were, because all the fans wanted was hockey back, and they were so excited, and I believe we put on a great show for them. The boys played well for the home crowd.”
Al Kessler is the Macon Mayhem’s director of broadcasting and media relations and a student in the Center for Collaborative Journalism