The Knoxville Ice Bears recently announced a trio of familiar names to SPHL fans. Former Ice Bear forward Berkley Scott makes his return to Knoxville after a season with the Fayetteville FireAntz. Adam Stuart, previously of the Peoria Rivermen and Louisiana IceGators, will suit up for the first time in Knoxville. Finally, forward Kyle McNeil begins his sixth pro season with his third team in three seasons.

The signings give Ice Bears head coach Mike Craigen a wealth of veteran experience going into training camp. Too much experience, in this case. The SPHL has a three veteran – defined as players with at least 224 games of pro experience – roster cap, in which the total number of games played cannot exceed 1,100 games. Knoxville is projected to enter training camp with four veterans: defenseman Jason Price (511 games) along with forwards McNeil (288), Stuart (273), and Scott (254). As a result of the signings, longtime enforcer Dennis Sicard (420 games) was given his release by the Ice Bears, and was picked up by the Macon Mayhem.

Image Credit: Fayetteville Observer
Image Credit: Fayetteville Observer

Scott returns to Knoxville after a 2015 offseason trade to Fayetteville for forward Trever Hertz. Scott, a 6’3″ center from Minnesota, scored 21 points (6G, 15A) for the FireAntz before a season-ending lower-body injury shut him down for the remainder of last season.  “He had matured a lot throughout his time in Fayetteville and through his rehab,” says Craigen. In four seasons with Knoxville, Scott – a President’s Cup winner in 2015 – scored 50 goals with 68 assists in 142 games. Craigen is hoping for a full recovery for his big forward, saying “He’s hell-bent n being back to 100 percent or better. Berkley’s one of the fastest players in the league with one of the most exciting skill sets. Hopefully, he can bring some experience and offensive creativity for us.”

“He had matured a lot throughout his time in Fayetteville and through his rehab,” says Craigen. In four seasons with Knoxville, Scott – a President’s Cup winner in 2015 – scored 50 goals with 68 assists in 142 games. Craigen is hoping for a full recovery for his big forward, saying “He’s hell-bent n being back to 100 percent or better. Berkley’s one of the fastest players in the league with one of the most exciting skill sets. Hopefully, he can bring some experience and offensive creativity for us.”

In four seasons with Knoxville, Scott – a President’s Cup winner in 2015 – scored 50 goals with 68 assists in 142 games. Craigen is hoping for a full recovery for his big forward, saying “He’s hell-bent on being back to 100 percent or better. Berkley’s one of the fastest players in the league with one of the most exciting skill sets. Hopefully, he can bring some experience and offensive creativity for us.”

Craigen is hoping for a full recovery for his big forward, saying “He’s hell-bent on being back to 100 percent or better. Berkley’s one of the fastest players in the league with one of the most exciting skill sets. Hopefully, he can bring some experience and offensive creativity for us.”

Photo Credit: Peoria Journal Star

Stuart, described by Craigen as “A pain in my butt for several years coaching against him and battling against by players,” is a dangerous power forward on the right side who should reach 20 goals for a fourth straight season. A 6’2″ right-shooting forward from Calgary, Stuart has 99 goals and 127 assists with the Mississippi Surge, Louisiana IceGators, and Peoria Rivermen. On Stuart’s playing style, “Adam plays 200 feet, he’s edgy out there, and plays with a ton of sandpaper,” says Craigen.

Should Stuart make the team, he faces a league suspension for his actions after an altercation with an official after Game 3 of the President’s Cup Final. Expect a disciplinary decision from SPHL Commissioner Jim Combs prior to the beginning of training camp. Craigen says, “We’ve been in communication with Jim and Doug (Price) at the league office, and they’ve been completely open with us. We’ll have a conference with them, and hoping it’ll be less than ten games.”

Source: Twitter (@mcnails22)
Source: Twitter (@mcnails22)

Finally, McNeil – the long-time Fayetteville FireAnt – comes to Knoxville after playing last season with the Huntsville Havoc. The big, physical forward dovetails well with Knoxville’s crash-and-bang playing style. “Every year, I play against Kyle and I think ‘Why don’t I try and get him next year?’ He’s a great locker room guy, and I like to surround myself around people like Kyle.” Continues Craigen, “Kyle and I have had a mutual respect for each other in opposition over the years. He’s one of those guys over the years that I’ve always respected his game.”, says Craigen. On McNeil’s playing style, Craigen remarked, “Straight up honest player, hard-nosed, sticks up for his teammates, goes to the dirty spots, and plays the game the right way. His big body and his ability to get in front of the net is going to translate well for us.”

“Every year, I play against Kyle and I think ‘Why don’t I try and get him next year?’ He’s a great locker room guy, and I like to surround myself around people like Kyle.” Says Craigen on recruiting the seven-year pro, “Kyle and I have had a mutual respect for each other in opposition over the years. He’s one of those guys over the years that I’ve always respected his game.”

On McNeil’s playing style, Craigen remarked, “Straight up honest player, hard-nosed, sticks up for his teammates, goes to the dirty spots, and plays the game the right way. His big body and his ability to get in front of the net is going to translate well for us.”

The signings give Craigen a challenge in managing a roster that may have four veterans (Price, Scott, Stuart, and McNeil) in Knoxville on opening night. The SPHL’s veteran rules state only three veteran players may be on any team’s active roster at any given time. “We have Berkley coming off of rehab and Stuart with his suspension,” says Craigen. On managing his veteran situation, Craigen remarks, “There’s a way to manage those four guys so one of them isn’t on our active roster but still is (technically) with the team. We’ll continue to evaluate moving forward, but through my experiences, these things tend to work themselves out.”

Look for Scott, Stuart, and McNeil to be in action as the Knoxville Ice Bears open training camp tomorrow, and open their season on October 21st at the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs.

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