It is the middle of June and the ice has finally melted on the 2016-2017 hockey season. Here is a recap on the champions of each league:
National Hockey League (NHL): Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins are the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings did it in 1997 and 1998. The Penguins defeated Columbus (4-1), Washington (4-3), Ottawa (4-3) and Nashville (4-2) to win their 5th cup in franchise history. Sidney Crosby was named the MVP.
American Hockey League (AHL): Grand Rapids Griffins
The Griffins defeated the Syracuse Crunch in six games to win their second Calder Cup. They defeated Milwaukee (3-0), Chicago (4-1) and San Jose (4-1) on their way to the Cup final. Griffins’ forward Tyler Bertuzzi was named the finals MVP. The Griffins are the top farm team for the Detroit Red Wings.
ECHL: Colorado Eagles
The Eagles won their first Kelly Cup championship in team history. Defenseman Matt Register was named the MVP to become the first defenseman in the ECHL’s 29-year history to receive the award. The Eagles defeated Idaho (4-1), Allen (4-2), Toledo (4-1) and South Carolina (4-0) to win the Cup. The Eagles are affiliated with the Colorado Avalanche.
Federal Hockey League (FHL): Danville Dashers
The Dashers completed the best season in Danville history by winning the Commissioner’s Cup after setting a new league record with 129 points in the regular season. The Dashers defeated Watertown (2-1) and Berlin (3-2) to win their first championship. Danville forward Gehrett Sargis was named the MVP of the Commissioner Cup playoffs with four goals and four assists.
Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL): Macon Mayhem
The Mayhem won their first President’s Cup title in just their second season. They defeated Columbus (2-1), Pensacola (2-0) and Peoria (2-0). Goalie Jordan Ruby was named the MVP.
North American Hockey League (NAHL): Lone Star Brahmas
The Brahmas were crowned Robertson Cup National Champions. Drake Glover was named the tournament MVP to lead the Brahmas their first title. Lone Star defeated Wichita Falls (3-0), Corpus Christi (3-2), Janesville (2-0) and Aston (1-0) on their way to the Robertson Cup.
United States Hockey League (USHL): Chicago Steel
The Steel won the Clark Cup Championship beating the Sioux City Musketeers 3 games to 2 for their first title. Eduards Tralmaks was the MVP with 10 goals and two assists in the playoffs. His 10 goals are tied for the most in USHL playoff history. Chicago defeated Youngstown (3-2) and Dubuque (3-1) in the playoffs.
Western Hockey League (WHL): Seattle Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the first time in the team’s 40-year history. Mathew Barzal was named the MVP. Seattle defeated Tri-City (4-0), Everett (4-0), Kelowna (4-2) and Regina (4-2). The Thunderbirds won a dramatic Game 6 at Regina in overtime to win the cup.
National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL): Buffalo Beauts
The Beauts stunned heavily favored Boston Pride to win the Isobel Cup. Despite a third place finish in the regular season, Buffalo defeated the Pride 3-2 to win the title. Buffalo goalie Brianne McLaughlin was named MVP with 60 saves in the game. The Beauts defeated New York (4-2) and Boston (3-2) in the playoffs.
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.