Sports

Pensacola blows game open to spoil Macon Mayhem’s opening night festivities

Macon's head coach Kevin Kerr watches as the Mayhem plays Pensacola Friday night.
Macon's head coach Kevin Kerr watches as the Mayhem plays Pensacola Friday night. photo@macon.com

Pensacola wasn’t intimidated by the mystique of the Macon Mayhem’s freshly unfurled championship banners and shiny 2016-2017 SPHL championship rings Friday night at the Macon Coliseum.

The Ice Flyers blew open a tight contest late in the second period to cruise to a 4-0 win over the Mayhem on opening night.

Macon trailed just 1-0 with a minute left in the second period before Pensacola got a pair of scores in the final 45 seconds of the period, which was plenty of insurance with reigning league MVP Sean Bonar in goal.

Five Who Mattered

Bonar: Pensacola’s goalie proved that he was worth an offseason trade. He was in midseason form, turning away 36 Macon shots.

Trever Hertz: He buried a rebound off the pads of Macon goalie Tomas Sholl in the second period for the game’s first goal. Hertz also had an assist.

Stephen Hrehoriak: Taking advantage of a rebound in front of the Macon net, his score gave the Ice Flyers a 2-0 lead.

Daniel Tedesco: He knocked a loose puck past Sholl on his pad side for a 3-0 lead, all but putting the game away going into the second intermission.

Sholl: He stood tall for most of two periods against one of the SPHL’s top goaltenders, keeping Macon in it before Pensacola pulled away. Sholl stopped 22-of-26 shots.

Observations

Tough sledding: Macon couldn’t get anything going against Bonar, who came up with stops on both sides of the net as the Mayhem also couldn’t cash in on scoring chances in front of the net, as well.

Eager crowd: A reported attendance of more than 3,700 was on hand for opening night and the pregame festivities, a strong turnout considering that Friday’s game was competing against high school football.

Physical statements: The Mayhem weren’t afraid to mix things up by playing physical. Eight seconds into the game, Dennis Sicard tangled with Pensacola’s Nathan Bruyere. It wouldn’t be the last tussle for either player. Seconds after Bruyere went at it with Macon’s Stathis Soumelidis, Sicard dropped the gloves with Mitchell Vandergunst. Sicard and Soumelidis combined for 20 of Macon’s 22 penalty minutes.

Worth mentioning

About opening losses: Macon lost its season opener for the third year in a row, but the past two years have hardly been a harbinger of what’s to come. Macon qualified for the playoffs two seasons ago and swept the regular season and postseason titles last year.

Familiar faces: Collin MacDonald, Mark Rivera and Matt Summers, members of last year’s championship team, were on hand to receive championship rings.

They said it

Mayhem head coach Kevin Kerr on the loss: “We just weren’t able to get anything started (Friday). Like a lot of first games, there was a lot of sloppy play and mistakes. The two goals at the end of the second (period) were back-breakers, and we were never able to get anything going after that. Now that all the celebration and festivities are done, hopefully we can just get back to playing hockey and come out with two points (Saturday).”

What’s next?

Macon hosts Huntsville on Saturday.

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