Knoxville, Tenn. (Ice Bears Release) – The Knoxville Ice Bears lost game 1 of the SPHL Semi-finals against the Pensacola Ice Flyers 3-2 in front of a deafening crowd of 2,710.
A physical first period saw the majority of its action in the Ice Bears offensive zone. The strong forecheck for Knoxville resulted in four shots on goal, with none of them reaching the twine. The period also saw both teams come up short on power play opportunities.
A defensive lapse 7:27 into the second period ended Bryan Hince’s shutout streak of seven periods of playoff hockey. Mitchell Good found the back of the net on an unassisted goal to put Pensacola up 1-0.
The final period displayed much of the same defensive effort from both sides until a flurry of goals caused momentum to swing back and forth between the two teams. Joe Caveney scored for the Ice Flyers at the 14:18 mark to put them up by two. Knoxville cut the lead in half exactly one minute later on a score from Peter Neal.
A shot from Nate Peterson bounced off the pad of goaltender Ross MacKinnon and sat in the crease. A crashing Neal beat the defenseman to the puck and fired it home for the Ice Bears first goal of the game.
Dan Buccella then answered with another Ice Flyers goal to make the score 3-1 Pensacola with 3:29 remaining on the clock.
Knoxville pulled within one on a dazzling late goal by Jon Higgins. Higgins showcased his finesse as he eluded a bevy of Ice Flyers. With just MacKinnon to beat, he wound up and sent a bullet over the goal tender’s left shoulder. The late push by Knoxville proved to be not enough as Pensacola took game 1 with a 3-2 victory.
Game 2 of the semi-finals will be Saturday, April 6 in Pensacola, and game 3 will be on Sunday, April 7 in Pensacola if necessary. Come to Buffalo Wild Wings in Turkey Creek for the official Ice Bears away game viewing party.