KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Knoxville Ice Bears returned to the Civic Coliseum Sunday afternoon for the second game in their series with the Peoria Rivermen. The Ice Bears and Rivermen met on Saturday in a hard-hitting game that saw Knoxville walk away with a 5-2 victory. Both teams would be ready for an intense battle on Sunday afternoon.
In the first period, both teams picked up from where they left off Saturday night. The first few minutes were filled with a lot of hard checks and good defense, both teams were playing an evenly-matched game. However, just over six minutes into the game, Mitchell McPherson got Peoria on the board with a strong move to the front of the net.
Just like Friday night, Knoxville didn’t wilt under the pressure of a Peoria goal, and Riley Christensen would tie the game up with a power play goal less than a minute later. Before the end of the period, Josh Pietrantonio and Skyler Smutek would drop the gloves and fight to set the tone for the rest of the game. The teams would be tied at 1-1 going into the first intermission.
The second period was a dead heat with both teams not giving up ground to each other. Knoxville started to get in deep on the forecheck and cause trouble for Peoria’s defense. The Rivermen were able to stay calm and collected, which helped them not give Knoxville any good scoring chances.
Late in the period, Peoria would start to put on pressure and ended up drawing a slashing penalty. Peoria would hold Knoxville’s first penalty kill in the defensive zone for 1:40 of the two minutes, but Knoxville’s penalty killers stood tall. Scott Cuthrell blocked multiple shots and Lucas Bombardier deflected multiple shots to shut down Peoria’s power play and keep the game tied at 1-1 heading into the third period.
Knoxville HEad Coach Jeff Carr: “It’s a commitment level. when you don’t have a commitment level like we didn’t a few weeks back, those are the ones that go in. Good karma happens when you keep buying in. It’s the sacrifice of what you’re willing to give. We finally have a good effort now, and I am thrilled to see what we’ll do in the next few weeks.”
The high level of play would carry into the third period as Knoxville and Peoria would battle for every inch of ice. Knoxville would fall back into their strong defensive set and force Peoria to make plays. The Rivermen got their offense going and were able to create chances, but Knoxville and goaltender Cody Porter were up to the task.
The Ice Bears would get two power play chances in the third period, but weren’t able to convert on either. Goalie Eric Levine was a major part of Peoria’s success on the penalty kill. Paul Fregeau gave Peoria a 2-1 lead midway through the third when he scored off a loose puck from an offensive zone face-off. Knoxville still wouldn’t fold, and a few minutes later, Gehrett Sargis got Knoxville back in the game with a snipe from the slot. Both teams battled hard the rest of the period, but the game would be settled in overtime.
Overtime was fast-paced and full of chances for both teams. Porter and Levine continued to stand on their heads early in overtime. However, Nick Neville was able to beat Porter and give Peoria the 3-2 win.
Knoxville got five of the possible six points in their three games in three days weekend. However, the schedule doesn’t lighten up on Knoxville, as they hit the road for a Tuesday night matchup in Birmingham.
Coach Carr isn’t worried about whether or not his team will be ready for the game:
“This group will be ready, 100%. The day off will be key for rest, but other than that, we’ll be ready.”
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