It is finally go time for the Macon Mayhem and head coach Kevin Kerr.
With up to 30 players arriving during the weekend to battle for 19 spots on the Mayhem roster and the ice set at the Macon Coliseum, minor league hockey will return to Macon for the first time since 2005. The players will take the ice Wednesday for practice, play an away exhibition game Friday before welcoming the Columbus Cottonmouths to Coliseum for another exhibition game.
“I am really excited to get the players on the ice,” said Kerr, who was hired in February to put Macon’s team together. “I feel like we have an outstanding group of players coming in, and we will have players from Europe, Canada and all over the United States. These guys know they are coming in to compete for a job, so the next few days will be crucial for them.”
Kerr and team president Mark Richards have the job of getting the roster down to 19 before the opening game Oct. 23.
“This is a very exciting time for me, but it will also be very stressful because I have built relationships with these guys over the last few months, and some of them won’t make the team,” said Kerr, who has been coaching for 10 years since his retirement from playing in 2005. ”I would say that we don’t have anyone that is a lock to make the team, and we really won’t know until we get them on the ice. I guarantee that we will keep the 19 players that will make this community proud and fits the style of hockey we want to play.
“There are so many good hockey players in the world right now, and unfortunately, there just are not enough jobs anymore. That gives us a great base to choose from.”
Kerr said the players that have visited Macon and the Coliseum were impressed with the setup for the team.
“They come in here and look at this building, and they are blown away by the facility,” Kerr said. “This is just an incredible facility for minor league hockey. I could not be happier with the way we have been received in Macon, and there is definitely a buzz about the beginning of the season.”
Kerr is fairly clear on what kind of team he wants to have on the ice and has envisioned what he wants a night of hockey to be like at the Coliseum.
“We will be a blue collar hockey team that will go to work every night and try to represent the city of Macon every game,” Kerr said. “As far as the game, well it will be much more than just a hockey game. I see it more of a social event where people can come and meet. There will be a lot of things going in between periods, and I don’t think anyone will be disappointed after coming to a game. I would love to see 4,000 or 5,000 people in the stands because the louder it is the better it is. I just can’t wait to get it all started.”