KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Ice Bears returned to the Civic Coliseum Friday night to take on the Huntsville Havoc after a quick midweek trip to Birmingham that resulted in an overtime win for Knoxville. Huntsville came into Knoxville on the heels of an overtime win against Quad City.
The first period was a battle of will. Knoxville wanted to get their feet going and let their forecheck go to work. Huntsville, on the other hand, filled up the neutral zone with bodies to slow down the Ice Bears. While neither team filled up the shot chart, both teams did have some high-quality scoring chances. However, both Joseph Murdaca and Max Milosek were up to the challenge between the pipes for their respective teams.
Kyle Sharkey would get the first goal of the game for Huntsville with just under a minute to go in the first period. The Havoc would carry that 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Huntsville came into the second period buzzing, with Tyler Piacentini able to bust around the defense before beating Murdaca 1:01 into the period. After the goal, both teams remembered that they don’t like each other very much and turned up the nastiness of the game. Scott Trask was running around laying hits and trying to keep the Havoc’s energy high. Knoxville countered with their usual spark plug in Brian Bachnak, who was able to lay some massive hits. Both players would cross paths after Bachnak crushed a Havoc defender behind the play midway through the second. Trask skated after Bachnak as Bachnak went to his bench, and both players would exchange shots near the Knoxville bench. However, they would only serve two minutes each for roughing.
After the altercation, both teams kept playing to negate the other team’s best abilities. Huntsville would get a power play late in the second period, but Bryce Nielsen would find the back of the net shorthanded to get Knoxville on the scoreboard. Huntsville carried a 2-1 lead into the third period.
In the third period, Knoxville wasn’t able to find their way. The Ice Bears went 0-for-4 on the power play, which is a continuation of their struggles from past games. When asked about why the power play is struggling coach Jeff Carr said:
“We don’t have shooters; No one is a shooter. if we had guys with heavy shots that would setup and we’d screen goalies, we would be ripping pucks and have success. We have a bunch of perimeter wrist shot guys that are not taking it in their hands and understanding what it takes to be on a power play and be special.
“Maybe we have to go 0-for-50, I don’t know, it’s frustrating and disgusting to watch because it’s the difference between winning and losing during January through the playoffs.”
As the third period rolled on, Huntsville would continue to stifle the Ice Bears offense at every turn. Sy Nutkevitch would score Huntsville’s third goal of the game late in the third period, essentially putting the game away. Knoxville pulled the goalie to pull themselves back in the game, but Kyle Sharkey had other plans. He scored Huntsville’s fourth goal of the game on the Ice Bears empty net, giving Huntsville the 4-1 win.
Knoxville will travel to Huntsville to battle the Havoc again tomorrow night at the Von Braun Center. Puck drop is set for 8:00 PM EST.
Follow JT on Twitter for in-game coverage, news, and notes regarding the Knoxville Ice Bears! Don’t forget to follow The Sin Bin on Twitter and Facebook for all additional SPHL, ECHL, and AHL minor league hockey coverage!