KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- An excited, sellout crowd of 5,117 gathered in the Civic Coliseum for Star Wars Night and the sixth match up of the season between the Knoxville Ice Bears and the Columbus Cottonmouths – both teams were battling for the second place in the SPHL standings. The Cottonmouths skated away with the win 4-2.
David Segal set the tone for the game dropping his gloves 45 seconds into the first period with Columbus’ Greg Beller. 8 more ticks off the game clock and Knoxville’s Mike Towns square off with Daniel Amesbury.
Columbus notched their first goal on a power play when Mark Van Vliet was in the penalty box for holding. The physical game continued when Towns got into his second altercation with Amesbury at 9:58. At the same time, Columbus’ Mitch Wall was called for unsportsmanlike conduct and Knoxville’s Tyler Fletcher was penalized for boarding, leaving the teams skating 4-on-4.
Columbus scored their second unanswered power play goal at 11:58 while Captain Kevin Swider was serving 2 minutes for tripping. The period ended with a penalty on Columbus’ Will Barlow, leaving the Ice Bears starting the second period 5-on-4.
Knoxville came to life by cutting the lead in half 9:51 into the second period with an even-strength goal from Segal. It was his eleventh goal of the season and was assisted by Eric Slais.
Columbus increased their lead to 3-1 when Tom Maldonado shot past Knoxville goalie Jesse Kallechy. Knoxville tightened the gap less than 5 minutes later when Van Vliet shuffled the puck in through a crowded net. Swider and Eric Satim assisted on the goal to put Knoxville within striking distance to start the third trailing 2-3.
Columbus struck again on the power play 3:13 into the third period increasing their lead to the final 4-2. Knoxville pulled Kallechy at 17:59 for the extra attacker and leaving an empty net. Despite the added skater, the Ice Bears were unable to cut into the lead. This is Knoxville’s third loss to Columbus making them 3-3 against the Cottonmouths for this season.
The Ice Bears return to the Coliseum on Thursday Feb. 9 for Hockey Night in Canada. The theme will feature different Canadian hockey themes. Come support the Ice Bears as they challenge rivals the Fayetteville FireAntz. Puck drops at 7:30.