MACON, GA – After 298 days, a form of normality finally returned to Middle Georgia, as the Macon Mayhem hosted their first home game since March 10, 2020, welcoming the Birmingham Bulls to town. After a comeback win in Huntsville to open the season, the Mayhem would need a similar effort at home.
Setting the tone early in the first period, Macon peppered Birmingham goaltender Hayden Lavigne with 19 shots in the opening 20 minutes of play, while only allowing four against Jake Theut. In spite of the quantity of shots taken, Lavigne would stand tall and keep the Mayhem off the board. Birmingham would have two opportunities on the powerplay to the Mayhem’s one, and the period would come to a close without a goal on the board.
In the second period, Birmingham would match the tone in a closely-contested, non-penalized frame of play – only being outshot 9-7 through the frame. The big hitting theme started in the first period would be continued in a major way, as the Bulls and Mayhem would trade physical blows in a major way in an otherwise quiet period on the scoresheet.
The penultimate period would truly live up to the intensity set up by the previous frames. Just over three minutes into the final 20, Birmingham captain Logan Nelson would have a shot redirected top shelf by Taylor Pryce, and finally broke the game’s scoreless spell. After an Interference penalty against the Bulls, the Mayhem would finally find their first Powerplay Goal of the season, as a dogpile in front of the net lead to a perfectly-passed puck to Logan Coomes that he’d snipe home. With over half the period left to go, the battle would once again be knotted up. The battle turned once again to the physical realm, as Bulls’ Kasey Kulczycki would drop the gloves with Josh Victor, who would get a few punches connected before the pair dropped each other. Minutes later, the game once again looked to be heading toward the favor of the Bulls, as familiar-face John Gustafsson would go unassisted in his first goal of the season; making it a 2-1 game with 4:29 to go. Hardly a minute later, the Mayhem would once again prove their tenacity, as Gabe Guertler tipped a Nick Minerva shot for the game’s tying goal. This goal from Guertler would prove to be a beneficial one for Macon, as it would secure them at least a Point, forcing overtime.For Birmingham, the extra period would be their second played in their three contests. Unlike their first overtime battle against Pensacola, the Bulls would come out on top as Tanner Froese would slowly approach from the right wing side and put it past Jake Theut for the final mark to put away the Mayhem.
While the result for the hometown faithful was not a victory, having hockey return to Middle Georgia after such a challenging year is more than a win in its own right. The Mayhem will get a chance to finish the weekend with a win as they host the Knoxville Ice Bears at 4 P.M. on Sunday.