By Bill Vilona
Ice Flyers Corespondent
The Ice Flyers had previously avoided this kind of forgettable night.
One that raises coach Rod Aldoff’s forehead temperature several levels.
As such, he hopes they remember and learn from the one Friday night in the Ice Flyers 5-0 loss against the Macon Mayhem at the Pensacola Bay Center. It made for a challenging way to begin a weekend of three games in three days, which includes a long trip Saturday to face the Huntsville Havoc – the team tied with the Ice Flyers atop the Southern Professional Hockey League standings.
“You have to put your head on a pillow (Friday night) and understand it, critique yourself… and don’t do it again,” Aldoff said.
Trailing just 1-0 into the third period, the Ice Flyers yielded four goals in the final 13 minutes to a dissolve a tight-checking, defensive battle, into their worst loss of the season.
“We were playing hard the first part of it and they got some goals that shouldn’t have been anywhere near where they were,” Aldoff said. “Just boneheaded mistakes. Stupid hockey.”
Included in the Mayhem madness, three goals from turnovers in the Ice Flyers zone.
“Yeah, boneheaded,” Aldoff said. “Turnovers are boneheaded plays when we got the puck and just turn it over. (Mayhem) came in and didn’t do a whole lot and got five goals.”
Meanwhile, the Ice Flyers (7-4-1) could not solve Macon goaltender Jake Theut, who stopped 31 shots and further lowered his league-best 1.47 goals-against average. He’s allowed just 12 goals in eight games as starter.
The Ice Flyers will get a rematch chance Sunday, following the road trip back from Huntsville. They will face Macon in a Valentine’s Day matinee (4 p.m.) in a makeup game from their Jan. 17 game that was postponed. It will be a fan appreciation giveway day, courtesy of sponsor BJ’s Wholesale Club.
The Mayhem (6-2-1) will spend Saturday in Pensacola resting while the Ice Flyers travel back to arrive in the middle of the night.
“We’re pros,” said Aldoff, who wasn’t buying the tough scenario. “You gotta figure it out. If you can’t handle it, then you are playing the wrong game.”
Friday’s loss was the third consecutive home game where the Ice Flyers’ offense was contained. They have scored just two goals in regulation play during the past nine periods on home ice.
Meanwhile, Macon had its first three goals from just 16 shots.
“It seemed like we were playing hard, playing well, and (Mayhem) gone go down and score,” Aldoff said.
The game started with energy on both sides. In what seemed a planned fight, the Ice Flyers Travis Armstrong and Macon’s Stathis Soumelidis dropped the gloves just six seconds after the puck was dropped for the opening faceoff.
Each landed punches in the brief bout and it got Bay Center crowd energized. The only other time it happened Friday was team captain Garrett Milan scraping with Macon’s Gabe Guertler later in the first period.
The Ice Flyers had three power play chances in the second period. But they struggled to get good looks at the goal cage.
“We turned power plays into one-on-ones. We gotta figure it out,” Aldoff said. “Pass the puck, move the puck.”
Macon’s Mason Baptista scored the game’s first goal with 12:24 left in the first period when he wristed a loose puck near the crease area into the top corner of the net.
In the third period, four different Mayhem players scored, including Baptista for his second goal. The Ice Flyers began the period with a power play carryover, but couldn’t generate a goal.
The game began a stretch where the Ice Flyers will play five of their next six games at home.