FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Hockey returned to the All-American City this weekend, as the Marksmen opened up the entire 2018-2019 Southern Professional Hockey League season. On their Opening Weekend, the Marksmen would take on their rival Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs on Friday’s Opening Night (presented by Systel), and on the road at Macon on Saturday Night.
Coming out of the weekend, the Marksmen have shown that the culture has changed in a major way, with the compete level of the players, and the never-say-die attitude of the team. With a 1-1 record (2-1W vs. Roanoke, 3-2L at Macon), and a deadlocked goals-for to goals-against of 4-4, the Marksmen proved they’re ready to win.
With a hugely anticipated weekend out of the way for the new-look Marksmen, we take a look back at three major players who helped the first week of Marksmen hockey get off to a successful start.
#3 – Jake Hauswirth (Captain)
Long-time SPHLer Jake Hauswirth made a dynamic return to Fayetteville for Opening Weekend, as he had fingerprints all over both goals for the Marksmen in their home-opening win.
With a highlight-reel goal late in the second period, the Crown Coliseum crowd got a shot of adrenaline and the Marksmen had necessary momentum heading into the final frame.
Hauswirth then would lead the powerplay with under four minutes to go in the game, as he would get Travis Jeke in position to shoot a hot-shot that would allow David Mazurek to bang it home for the major win in front of the hometown faithful.
Hauswirth was quieter on the scoring sheet on Saturday night, but found ways to contribute in his leadership that lead to the Marksmen near-comeback. His impact from the moment he rejoined the Marksmen was evident, and his leadership was obvious heading out of the week.
This was a clear choice, and there is no player who better exemplifies the Marksmen crest and culture than Captain Jake.
#2 – Dillon Kelley (Rookie Goaltender)
Wow. Throw out that rookie tag or whatever speculation there may have been about an inexperienced goaltending-core for the Marksmen. Dillon Kelley (Adrian) had a Opening Weekend to remember, as he shined as the top performing two-game goaltender in the league, with an outstanding .938 save percentage, a 2.05 goals-against average, and 60 saves (64 shots faced).
Kelley is the biggest player on the Marksmen team, at 6’5 and 220 lbs, and he certainly had the heaviest weight on him this weekend, taking on two playoff teams. He found himself in a bad situation Opening Night when he allowed the first goal of the season, but he absolutely stood on his head during the remainder of the game as he helped steal the win over the Dawgs.
On Saturday Night, against one of the league’s final four teams from the previous year, he held his own as he faced again over 30 shots.
It never seemed as though Kelley got on top of himself, and responded to the pressure that he faced in a major way. When the Marksmen head to Roanoke on Friday, look out for the goaltending tandem to continue its impressive start.
#1 – Jesse Kallechy (First-Year Head Coach)
The culture has changed. That much is obvious. Head Coach Jesse Kallechy has committed his whole-being to making Fayetteville a destination and the team to beat with rising stock.
There was fight, there was effort, and the team kept both their opponents in check and on their heels. More than that, the Marksmen came out of the gate as the dominating team with forecheck and offensive chances. This is big for the Marksmen, which boasts the youngest team in the league. As young as the Marksmen are on paper, they make up for the inexperience with their relentless effort, and the only way that that can be possible is through the dedicated efforts and specific abilities of the coaching duo of Kallechy and Peter Worrell.
In both games this weekend, the Marksmen found themselves down at various points, but responded to every goal against with a goal for their own. At no point were the Marksmen out of any period or any game, and that was more than evident. There was no quit in the team down to the end, and the effort and dedication was obvious.
The Marksmen have a week of preparation before they head to Roanoke, and two weeks before they’re back at home. Expect to see an even more seasoned team by that time.
This weekend goes down as a success off the bat for the Marksmen, and what develops on the other side of it going forward is another story that will be written by season’s end.
The Marksmen are back home on Friday, November 2 for Haunted Hockey, and Saturday, November 3 for Military Appreciation. Tickets are available now by calling the Marksmen office at (910) 321-0123!
If you’re interested in partnering up with the Marksmen organization, or hearing about our season ticket packages, group packages, mini-plans, or advertising benefits in-arena or with the broadcast, email Director of Digital Marketing and Media Shawn Bednard, SBednard@MarksmenHockey.com or call the Marksmen Office at (910) 321-0123.
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The Fayetteville Marksmen are owned and operated by Union Pro Hockey Group and play their home games at Crown Coliseum. The Marksmen are a committed community asset, designed to provide premium entertainment to families and individuals in Cumberland County and surrounding areas.