KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- The Knoxville Ice Bears hosted the Mississippi RiverKings in their ninth and final regular season meeting of the season.
The teams traded opportunities, hits and goals through the first 59 minutes but in the waning seconds of the game, the RiverKings notched the game winner to deny Knoxville from ascending into second place with a 3-2 victory.
The first period got off to an aggressive start. Just 1:51 into the first period, a scrum around the net almost turned to fisticuffs between Ice Bears’ David Segal and RiverKings’ Gabriel Boutin-Gagnon.
Segal was the first to put one in the net, 17:24 into the first period. He ripped a wrist shot from inside the slot after a receiving a pass from Eric Slais. Kevin Swider also picked up an assist on the goal. The RiverKings returned the favor at 18:07 in the first.
Mark Magnowski stuffed in a loose puck from in front of the net with Kyle Rank on the ground. The goal was assisted by Darrel Stoddard and Matt Whitehead. The teams returned to their locker room with the score knotted at 1.
Ice Bears goaltender Rank managed to preserve the tie as he was peppered from all sides. At 6:06 in the second, RiverKings forward Matt Whitehead broke in alone on Rank to score, breaking the tie at 2-1.
Emery Olauson drew Knoxville even on the power play with a blistering slap shot from the high slot. It was his 43rd goal of the season, just one shy from tying the Ice Bears record for most regular season goals.
With both teams fighting to break the tie once again, Mike Towns and Kevin Fukala drop their gloves in a less than epic battle. Both players were sent to the box for fighting and the teams remained five on five. The second period ended tied at 2.
The third period was a race to get the game winning goal. Both teams fought for every inch of ice with several slashing, tripping, and roughing penalties. Both teams had opportunities to score on a power play once again but they couldn’t convert.
Just 26 seconds remaining in the third period, the RiverKings’ Jeff Topilko scored the game winning goal from the top of the right circle. Rank managed to thwart off 35 of 38 shots on goal.
Join the Ice Bears on Thirsty Thursday, March 22, for the final weekend of the regular season as they host the Columbus Cottonmouths. One lucky fan will have the opportunity to take home $1000 in the Pioneer Heating and Air – Hot/Cold Intermission. As always, the puck drops at 7:30.