The Macon Mayhem’s chances of repeating as champions now come down to their ability to bounce back.
Macon entered Thursday with a 1-0 series lead and a chance to sweep Huntsville in the President’s Cup semifinals and advance to the championship round.
Instead, a humbling 8-2 defeat sets up Friday night's winner-take-all game at the Macon Coliseum, with the winner going on to play for the league’s title against either Peoria or Knoxville.
The Mayhem gave themselves an uphill climb from the start on Thursday, and the slope got even steeper as the game went on as the Havoc punched four goals onto the board in the final period to coast to the win.
“We’ll bounce back, we don’t have quitting in our bones, we don’t have quitters on our team, Mayhem head coach Kevin Kerr said. “We’ve got to bring it (Friday). It’s a new day”
Macon trailed 1-0 early before tying it up on a Caleb Cameron power play goal prior to a pair of Huntsville goals extending the lead to 3-1 through a period. Huntsville never trailed again.
That’s not to say Macon was out of it the entire way. Daniel Echeverri’s slap shot 2:40 into the second period cut the Huntsville lead to 3-2, and Mayhem starting goalie Charlie Finn, through two periods, stabilized things after Huntsville’s early scoring barrage.
Macon had a golden chance to pull even just shy of the second period’s halfway point with a 5-on-3 advantage, but was unable to slip a shot past Huntsville goalie Keegan Asmundson.
That missed chance loomed bigger. Huntsville extended its lead to 4-2 with just 14 seconds to go in the second when Shawn Bates notched his second out of three goals in the game.
It turned out to be the start of Huntsville taking full control of the night. Just 1:12 into the third, Christian Powers scored for a shorthanded Havoc goal, and it was all Huntsville from that point on.
Macon’s special teams were among the areas on Thursday that the team will look to quickly rectify in time for Friday’s decisive game. The Mayhem were 1-of-8 on the power play in addition to yielding the shorthanded score.