KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Knoxville Ice Bears returned to the Civic Coliseum Saturday night to take on the Fayetteville Marksmen. The Ice Bears are coming off of an overtime victory in Evansville Friday night. Fayetteville is looking to rebound from a loss in Macon on Friday.
The first period was very even, Knoxville used their pace to get in deep on the forecheck and create opportunities. Goalie Blake Wojtala shut down any chances and kept Knoxville off the scoreboard. Fayetteville was steady in their play and turned their defense into offense. Bu,t just like his goalie counterpart, Joseph Murdaca kept Fayetteville scoreless.
Both teams came out and played a more intense style in the second period. Knoxville continued their strong forecheck and creating chances. Fayetteville continued to play strong defense, but a tripping penalty midway through the second period lead to a Knoxville power play. Just a few seconds into the power play, Tucker Ross took a slap shot from the point that Lionel Mauron would tip past Wojtala to give Knoxville a 1-0 lead.
However, just over a minute later, Travis Jeke would answer with a goal of his own to tie the game 1-1. Both teams would battle the rest of the second, but Knoxville was able to get another power play late in the period as Scott Cuthrell would get the Ice Bears second goal of the game. Knoxville would head into the second intermission leading 2-1.
Knoxville came out and played in their neutral zone trap to start the third period. The Ice Bears were able to slow down Fayetteville’s offense early in the period. However, Fayetteville started to dump the puck deep into the offensive zone and press on the forecheck. With this style change, Fayetteville started to force Knoxville into turnovers and mistakes.
Shane Bernard cashed in on a some of those mistakes with a goal midway through the third period to tie the game 2-2. Fayetteville would carry the play the rest of the third. Knoxville played good defense and kept Fayetteville from scoring again, finishing regulation with a 2-2 tie.
Overtime was back and forth with both teams playing wide open. Gehrett Sargis almost found the game-winning goal for Knoxville, but Wojtala and the Fayetteville defense shut the door on him. The Marksmen started to take over play late in the extra period, however. Knoxville did everything they could to hold on, but it wouldn’t be enough. Max Cook was able to beat Murdaca with just 10 seconds left in the extra frame to give Fayetteville a 3-2 overtime victory.
With the overtime loss, Knoxville continued their eight-game point streak. When asked about what his team could take away from this game, Knoxville Head Coach Jeff Carr said:
“Anyone who watches this league knows Fayetteville is having a year that when you think they’re gonna slip, they don’t. A tough goal to tie it up and then the game winner. I probably shouldn’t of had (Stefan) Brucato out there; he’s done so much in the last two games and he’s played in every situation. He was so gassed that I think he got caught a little flat-footed. I probably should’ve had a little more speed out there, just tough.
“Great to get a point and I think that’s eight points in our last eight games, six of the games being wins. Obviously, you want to get those two points, but at least we salvaged one point.”
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