Yeah, that’s a weird headline you won’t see often. Hockey in Macon, Georgia? Championship Hockey team?
In their second year of existence, the current Macon hockey team captured the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) championship on Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Peoria Rivermen (I guess Peoria is south of something right?). The Macon Mayhem completed a sweep of the series two games to none.
It is the first championship for a Macon sports team since the Macon Peaches won the South Atlantic League title in 1962.
Nearly 4,000 fans saw the Mayhem get on the scoreboard first with a goal by Dennis Sicard. Jake Trask scored later then the Mayhem held on as goalie Jordan Ruby stopped Peoria. Ruby was named the series Most Valuable Player by stopping 64 of 66 shots in the finals.
Macon’s first venture into ice hockey came in 1973 when the Macon Whoopees played in the Southern Hockey League (SHL). The Whoopees were coached by the late KeKe Mortson. Unfortunately, the novelty of the game wore off and the Whoopees folded before the end of the season.
I was around when hockey returned to Macon in 1996 as the Macon Whoopee in the Central Hockey League (CHL). The team moved to the ECHL in 2001 then folded after the season. The next season the Macon Trax played in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League (ACHL) and lasted three seasons in three separate leagues before they folded. The Macon Mayhem brought hockey back to the city when the Augusta Riverhawks were forced to relocate when they were unable to replace their ice making system.
Macon hockey teams list:
- 1973-74: Macon Whoopees (SHL) 22-38-2
- 1996-97: Macon Whoopee (CHL) 38-24-4 (Lost to Memphis in Quarterfinals)
- 1997-98: Macon Whoopee (CHL) 38-25-7 (Lost to Columbus in Quarterfinals)
- 1998-99: Macon Whoopee (CHL) 36-25-9 (Lost to Huntsville in Quarterfinals)
- 1999-2000: Macon Whoopee (CHL) 34-26-10 (Defeated Fayetteville in Quarterfinals, Lost to Columbus in Semifinals)
- 2000-01: Macon Whoopee (CHL) 23-36-11
- 2001-02: Macon Whoopee (ECHL) 29-31-12
- 2002-03: Macon Trax (ACHL) 31-25-3 (Lost to Orlando in Semifinals)
- 2003-04: Macon Trax (WHA2) 30-20-3 (Defeated Alabama in Semifinals, Lost to Jacksonville in Final)
- 2004-05: Macon Trax (SPHL) 33-23 (Defeated Jacksonville in Semifinals, Lost to Columbus in Final)
- 2015-26: Macon Mayhem (SPHL) 24-27-5 (Lost to Peoria in First Round)
- 2016-17: Macon Mayhem (SPHL) 37-13-6 (Defeated Columbus in First Round, Defeated Pensacola in Semifinals, Defeated Peoria in Final)
When hockey returned in 1996, the Macon teams that followed were always playing in the shadow of the Columbus Cottonmouths. They watched the Cottonmouths win three league championships while the Macon teams seemed to barely survive. This season, Macon finally won the title while Columbus is on thin ice and may fold after 21 years. The Cottonmouths were always a rivalry and even this season Columbus pushed the Mayhem to three games in the playoffs before being eliminated.
Macon finally get his hockey title. Somewhere today KeKe Mortson is smiling.