After our Saturday story about the Macon Mayhem needing an emergency goalie for Friday’s game against the Fayetteville Marksmen, we knew we needed to speak with that goalie about how he ended up getting that chance, and what the experience was like.
Lucky for us, the internet is a magical place where nothing bad ever happens, and we were able to track down Macon’s emergency goalie, a man by the name of Mark Maxwell, and got to chat a bit with him about his experience as a pro hockey player, Friday night.
BLH: Tell us about your hockey upbringing and how you ended up in Macon.
Mark Maxwell: I’m originally from Ohio and started playing hockey around 4 years old, and have been a die-hard hockey fan ever since. I’ve literally played every position and was our high school’s starting goaltender my junior and senior year. Like I mentioned to you previously, I just played in the Men’s league in Athens with the club team being so competitive, and have been playing in Men’s leagues and getting on the ice whenever I can.
As for the Macon portion, long story short I ended up here for work. I’ve been in the venue management industry for several years working for a great company. They had an opening after we obtained the management of the Coliseum here in Macon, and I was fortunate enough to been given the opportunity to become the Director of Finance after serving as a Staff Accountant at a couple other arenas.
BLH: So what were you doing when you got the call/email/text saying the Mayhem needed you to be the backup goalie, and how in the world did they know to call you?
MM: We’re fortunate that we have a great relationship with the team, and their offices are literally located across the lobby from ours.
I remember when I first got to Macon in February 2017, I was getting introduced to their staff and I was just chatting with Blair Floyd (who at the time was their Assistant GM, and is their current GM) and he asked if I was a hockey fan. I told him that I had been playing for years, and that I was a goalie. He then responded, “Ok good, so if we need an emergency backup goalie, I’m calling you.” I jokingly replied, “sounds good” and thought nothing of it.
Flash forward about two years to Friday, and he swung by my office to pick something up in the morning and he mentioned in passing that he had a goalie on his way from Winston-Salem of the FHL, and wasn’t sure that he was going to make it in time for the game and that I may be needed. I just asked that he keep me in the loop, and he said he would. I figured it was early enough in the day, that he would have enough time to get here from NC, So I went about my workday like normal.
I hadn’t heard from him until a little after 4 pm, Blair popped in again and said “You have all your stuff in town, right? You wanna go get it for us? We’re going to need you tonight.” I was a little surprised, but told the GM and AGM of the arena that I was going to run and grab my stuff and was going to dress as the back up goalie tonight and hurried home to grab my stuff and make it back before warm-ups.
BLH: What was it like getting to go in the locker room and get ready? Any nerves and how did the guys on Mayhem treat you?
MM: It was a great experience to be welcomed in there. I walked in, and the equipment manager came up, asked if I needed anything and I said, my skates were probably overdue, so he went ahead and sharpened them for me. The guys in there were awesome to meet and treated me as if I was a member of the team and had been all year. This pretty much got rid of any nerves that I had prior to the whole thing.
BLH: How about when you stepped onto the ice for warmups? Talk us through that and tell us about any shots you faced or anything fun that was said put there. Any nerves at that point?
MM: To be honest, when taking the ice I tried not to think about it all too much. I hadn’t faced a shot in a little while, so I was anxious to see how rusty I was going to be. When the starter stepped out and the first couple shots hit the pads or gloves, the jitters and anxiousness wore off.
BLH: How about during the game? Are you sitting there on the bench thinking, “Oh God, please don’t let me have to go in when in counts?” Or was part of you hoping you might get the chance to see some action? And what’s the experience like being on the bench with a pro team as the game is happening?
MM: During the game, was pretty great. Being close to the action and hearing the sounds of the game is something that you can fully appreciate down there, and I was definitely fully content staying on the bench haha.
I think it would’ve been awesome to be able to get in, but at the same time you know going into it, that the only way you’re seeing ice time is due to injury, which you never want to see. From the bench, you could see in the first period that Sylves, the starter, was tracking the puck really well, and both goals that he gave up that evening he really could nothing about. The first was a PPG that to be honest, with so many guys in front, I don’t know how it got through. The second was some bad puck luck on a breakout pass that led to an odd man situation in front, where the Fayetteville forward, made a nice move and elevated it enough to bury it.
There was a moment in the second period where Fayetteville ran him over and took a Goalie Interference penalty, but he quickly popped up to get rid of all the concerns I had. It’s definitely a unique perspective, that once you get out of playing competitive hockey that you miss.
BLH: After the game ended and all the excitement wore off, what was the one thing you’ll look back on and remember most, and did the team, either the players themselves or the organization as a whole, do anything to commemorate the night? Also, what happened to the Christmas jersey you got to wear?
MM: The jerseys were to be worn for Friday and Saturdays game then auctioned off. Being that they’re specialty jerseys, they only had two Goalie Cut jerseys, so it had to be used the next night by the new goalie once he got to Macon.
The experience itself was more than enough from the organization. The players expressed their gratitude to me once we got back to the locker room for helping them out, which I appreciated but it wasn’t necessary. Them opening up their locker room and just treating me like one of the guys, was more than enough of a memorable experience that I’m sure will stick with me the most.
A big thank you to Mark for sharing his experience with us, and fingers crossed that he gets another chance to suit up for the Mayhem in the future!