The Macon Mayhem’s desire for a quick, fast-paced rhythm on offense was slowed to a crawl Saturday against Knoxville, as a penalty-laced second period paved the way for a trio of power play goals as the Ice Bears shut out the Mayhem 4-0.
Macon (18-6-4) has now been shutout in consecutive games and lost four in a row, three being defeats in regulation.
Macon and Knoxville (18-7-3) went toe to toe on both ends of the rink in the first period, with each side putting together strong chances to score, only to see Macon goalie Jordan Ruby and Knoxville’s Dylan Wells turn away each shot. The deadlock ended in the second period as five minor penalties called against Macon handed Knoxville multiple power play opportunities, and the Ice Bears cashed in with a trio of scores to lead to the win.
Four who mattered
Berkley Scott: One of the SPHL’s top scorers broke the scoreless stalemate 2:30 into the second period, beating Ruby high on his glove side.
Jason Price: Price added to Knoxville’s strong special teams when he went in from the right side to get the puck past Ruby for a 2-0 Ice Bears lead.
Trevor Hertz: Hertz capped Knoxville’s dominance on the power play near the end of the second period with 1:30 to play when he took a shot off the face off on the right side to make it a three-goal advantage. The face off came right after Matt Johnson was penalized for tripping to give Knoxville a 5-on-3 advantage.
Wells: Wells got the shutout for Knoxville, turning away all 43 shots that he faced.
Off pace by penalties: The Mayhem’s desire to play at a high tempo was doused by penalties in the second period. Macon was whistled for a total of six penalties, including five minor penalties. That equated to the Mayhem either being down a player or not having a man advantage for half of the 20 minutes of the period. At game’s end, Macon had been called for eight penalties to the seven on Knoxville.
Early bursts: Both teams showed the motivation to put Friday’s respective losses behind them with each side getting multiple scoring chances on both ends of the ice in the first period. Strong goalie play by Ruby and Wells, however, kept the game scoreless through the first 20 minutes.
Recent transactions: The Mayhem received two of their players back from loans to ECHL teams in the latter half of the week. Defenseman Ryan Michel was recalled from Atlanta with Ruby rejoining the team after a stint with South Carolina. Macon released goalie Curtis Martinu to make room for Ruby.
Standings update: At the beginning of the month, the Mayhem were the leaders of the SPHL. Now, they head a very heated battle for second place. Macon is one point ahead of Knoxville and two in front of Mississippi for the No. 2 spot.
Looking for power: The Mayhem were 0-for-5 on the power play . They have now failed to score a goal in their past 23 power play chances.
Lots of shots: The Mayhem lost despite outshooting the Ice Bears 43-37.
They said it
Mayhem head coach Kevin Kerr on the second-period penalty minutes: “You can’t win hockey games sitting in the penalty box. Our (penalty kill) is not very good right now, so you can’t win games sitting in the penalty box and you can’t win games when you’re not scoring the puck.”
Kerr on what’s different with the Mayhem now compared to a few weeks ago: “It’s little things — it’s work ethic, it’s battles, it’s competing and fight through adversity. We were a top team in our league at the beginning of the year and now we’ve got to find a way to win and find a way to get 20 guys on the same page and do the things we need to do to win hockey games.”
The Mayhem host Pensacola on Friday.