KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Ice Bears have finally seemed to find their way after struggling to start the season. Knoxville swept Roanoke in a two-game series last weekend, winning Friday night 3-2 and 7-4 on Saturday evening. Knoxville was able to impose their style of play on Roanoke for five of the six periods on the weekend.
The Ice Bears will look to add to their two-game winning streak when they take on the Huntsville Havoc in a two-game series this weekend. In addition to building on their win streak, Knoxville will be playing Huntsville for the first time this regular season since last year’s playoff exit in the second round at the hands of the Havoc.
Let’s take a look at the Huntsville Havoc and see how their season is going so far:
Huntsville So Far This Season:
Current Record: 3-2-1 – 7 Points (4th in SPHL)
Goals For Per Game: 3.00 (5th in SPHL)
Goals Against Per Game: 2.66 (6th in SPHL)
Power Play: 6/24, 25.0% (3rd in SPHL)
Penalty Kill: 2/24, 91.6% (2nd in SPHL)
The Huntsville Havoc are lead offensively by Shawn Bates and Kyle Sharkey. Bates has scored eight points (3G, 5A) in six games. Bates not only leads his team in points but also leads the league in points. Huntsville has relied on Bates to be a fresh scoring face to an already championship-caliber roster. Sharkey is a mainstay in Huntsville’s roster that has been an extremely reliable and smart player on the ice. However, in his growth as a player, Sharkey is also becoming a prominent scoring threat in the league. Sharkey has tallied seven points (2G, 5A) in Huntsville’s first six games. Sharkey and Bates will be two key players for Knoxville to focus on this weekend. Knoxville will also need to keep Sy Nutkevitch in check, Nutkevitch has only scored three points (0G, 3A) in Huntsville’s six games and will be looking to finally heat up against the rival Ice Bears.
Defensively, Huntsville relies on very talented and well known SPHL veterans. Nolan Kaiser, Pat Condon, and Peter Sikalis are players that have carried the Havoc to two consecutive championship seasons. Saverio Posa has been Huntsville’s highest-scoring defenseman with three points (2G, 1A) in six games. Posa’s scoring will be a big threat Knoxville will need to be aware of on the blue line.
Between the pipes, Huntsville is riding with Max Milosek and Mike DeLaVergne. Milosek is 2-0-1, has posted a 2.58 GAA and a .909 save percentage in his three appearances this year. DeLaVergne has gone 1-2-0 in his three appearances this season, has a 2.37 GAA and a .923 save percentage in three games this year. Suffice it to say, whoever Huntsville puts in net this weekend will give Knoxville a battle.
Recipe For Victory
Ultimately for Knoxville to have a chance to win they’ll need young defensemen, Cooper Jones and Pierre Ouellette to continue to play well and continue to show the growth they’ve had in their game during previous weeks. Knoxville’s top four defensemen are starting to find their rhythm and will be tested by Huntsville this weekend. Jason Price will need to lead the Ice Bears this weekend in what’s sure to be an intense early season encounter between these two rival teams.
Offensively, Knoxville will need Marly Quince and Scott Cuthrell to continue their hot start to the season. Look for Stefan Brucato to step up and use his veteran style of play as a calming influence for Knoxville’s offense against a veteran-heavy team.
Finally, the Ice Bears will need top-notch performances from their goalies this weekend to have the best chance of winning this weekend.
The home-and-home series gets started Friday night at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum, faceoff is set for 7:35 pm ET. The series shifts to Huntsville for faceoff Sunday afternoon set for 6:00 pm ET.
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