In more ways than the one, the view across the ice will be familiar for the Macon Mayhem as they begin a three-games-in-three-nights homestand Thursday at the Macon Coliseum.
The Mayhem host Evansville on Thursday and Friday before playing Birmingham on Saturday.
The first of those opponents will come into the weekend third in the SPHL standings, just one point out of first. Like Macon a year ago, the Thunderbolts are off to a strong start in their second year in the league, having retained a core nucleus from the end of their first season that includes veteran head coach Jeff Pyle.
Macon, sixth in the standings and three points shy of first place, beat Evansville 4-1 in the last meeting between the teams on Oct. 28.
“Jeff Pyle has done a lot of similar things to what we did. He kept a lot of players from last year’s team that they ended the season with and filled in some holes, pretty similar to what we did,” Mayhem head coach Kevin Kerr said. “They are definitely a team to beat in our league. They play hard and play a system that suits Jeff Pyle well, for sure.”
One of those holes was filled by way of Macon.
Thomas Sholl, who began the season as one of the Mayhem’s two goalies, was traded to Evansville Nov. 1 for future considerations. Troy Passingham has since returned to the Mayhem to join Charlie Finn to fill out Macon’s goalie tandem.
Sholl, meanwhile, is 2-0-0 since being traded to Evansville.
The Mayhem will have a degree of familiarity with Sholl, given that they went against him during training camp, but team captain Daniel Gentzler has even more insight.
“I know him from growing up back home in Los Angeles. I’ve been shooting against him for a long time,” Gentzler said. “I’ve always had trouble scoring on him, and he’s always had my number.
“If we get chances to score, we just have to capitalize on them.”
Macon is looking to capitalize off the momentum after starting the season 0-2-0, earning five of six possible points in the past three games to improve to 2-2-1. That includes last Saturday on the road against Mississippi, when the team set a franchise record in a 7-3 win as five players recorded multiple points.
“We were kind of snakebit there to start the year. To see us put a 7-spot on Mississippi was a huge relief,” Gentzler said. “We knew we had the offense. It just makes everyone feel a bit better about their game.”
“We’ll chalk up those first two games to a championship hangover. We had a lot of things going on. We had some guys back for the ring ceremony. We’ve kind of turned it around and realized that we’re the ones people are gunning for, and we’ll have to put our best effort to win games.”