With the crowd rocking and with the team playing inspired hockey, the patrons of the Knoxville Coliseum were treated to an entertaining game Saturday night. Despite a valiant effort, the Knoxville Ice Bears were denied in their bid to reach .500 and lost 2-1 to the league-leading Pensacola Ice Flyers. The Ice Bears move to 15-17- 5 on the season, while the Ice Flyers improve to 24-13-3.
After entering the 3rd period tied at 1 goal apiece, the game appeared to turn in Pensacola’s favor with a goal. While the Ice Flyers celebrated, the referees conferred among themselves and eventually waved off the goal, determining that a Flyer had used his glove to put the puck into the back of the net. In the end, the game-winning goal came later, once again from Pensacola. Right Wing John Dunbar’s slap-shot squirted past Ice Bear goalie Bryan Hince with just 9:03 left in the game. Left Wing Brett Lutes was credited with the assist.
Knoxville opened up the scoring in the first period, when Right Wing Ben Power buried his shot into the net with just 2:38 left. The goal, his 13th on the season, was co-assisted by Left Wing Francis Drolet and Hince. The Ice Flyers started off rusty, and let the Ice Bears dictate most of the 1st period, especially after the opening goal.
Once the 2nd period began, Pensacola displayed the form that has them leading the Southern Professional Hockey League. Their improved style of play and effectiveness clearly got into the head of Right Wing David Segal, who visited the penalty box twice within a three-minute period. After the game was tied, the contest was a defensive struggle until Dunbar’s winner.
Knoxville owned a slight edge in shots on goal with 31, just ahead of Pensacola’s 29. Saturday’s tilt was the second consecutive match-up between the teams, as the Ice Bears lost in overtime in Pensacola on Friday night. The change of venue proved meaningless, as Knoxville has now lost its last two games.
The sold-out crowd was announced at 5,170. It was Wiener Dog Race Night at the Knoxville Coliseum, and the crowd was treated to 3 preliminary heats with over 80 dogs. ‘Rusty’, the defending champion, won once again and left with a gift basket worth over $500. One of wiener dogs, named ‘Lexi’, even managed to wander into the Ice Bears’ locker room.
The Knoxville Ice Bears’ next home game is on February 15th, against the Mississippi Surge. It will be “Pink and Preds Night”, where the Ice Bears will don pink jerseys that are to be auctioned off at the game’s conclusion. Local hockey fans will also be able to meet the Nash the mascot and some people from the Nashville Predators’ organization.