KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Ice Bears returned to the Civic Coliseum Friday night to play the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs. Knoxville would be coming off of an overtime loss in Huntsville the previous weekend. The Rail Yard Dawgs would also be coming off of a loss, as they were shutout by the Birmingham Bulls on January 11.
Knoxville played on the front foot as soon as the puck dropped. The Ice Bears were able to create a lot of pressure on the forecheck which laid the groundwork for their offensive attack. Roanoke tried to keep Knoxville out of the center of the ice and negate high-quality offensive chances, but the Ice Bears were still able to dictate play in their offensive zone. Henry Dill was able to keep Knoxville from scoring in early in the period. However, a Travis Armstrong penalty would give Knoxville their first power play of the game and Stefan Brucato would make Roanoke pay when he put home a pass from Dwyer Tschantz. Knoxville continued to dictate play in the period and carried a 1-0 into the first intermission.
The Ice Bears didn’t let their foot off of the gas in the second period. Bryce Nielsen set the tone by scoring just 1:10 into the period. Knoxville would continue to push the pace of play and give Roanoke trouble with their speed. The Rail Yard Dawgs tried to slow the game down by being more physical, and they were able to turn some of their hits into offense. However, the Ice Bears defense gave up very few high danger chances, and Cody Porter was able to shut down what the Rail Yard Dawgs threw at him. Midway through the second period, Gehrett Sargis was able to beat Dill on a breakaway to give Knoxville a 3-0 lead.
Knoxville kept getting to the front of the net and connecting passes as the period went on. Anthony McVeigh was able to score late in the second period after he and his linemates tore through the Roanoke defense and beat Dill for the fourth time. After the goal, Dill was pulled from the game and Austyn Roudebush took over for the Rail Yard Dawgs. This would be his first action in the SPHL. Late in the second period, Josh Nenadal scored for Roanoke after his shot took an odd bounce off of an Ice Bears defender and got past Porter. Knoxville would 4-1 heading into the third period.
The third period would be more of the same, as Roanoke would try to up the physicality to negate Knoxville’s speed. The Ice Bears would continue to be successful in their style of play but wouldn’t score again. Both teams would ultimately just run the clock out and Knoxville would win 4-1.
Knoxville was able to control the game throughout and when asked why they were so successful, Head Coach Jeff Carr said:
“We played in position the whole game. We had a couple of guys lungE into the neutral zone and a couple of times guys were swinging through, but we were stopping on pucks and going through pucks.
“We had Defensemen that weren’t letting guys behind us. Roanoke was using an unorthodox two-post power play; you can’t run out and go play in your quadrants because they aren’t looking for shots, they’re looking for plays down low on their tape. That’s something we talked about but never practiced so guys bought in ultimately.
“We also went to the net. The second period was so crucial because we didn’t know if they were gonna get a cheap one and we were gonna go flat or if we were gonna put the gas pedal down. Guys went to the net, and when you do, good things happen. it was just a great team win.”
Knoxville will be on the road Saturday night playing the Fayetteville Marksmen. Puck drop is set for 6:00 pm EST at the Crown Coliseum.
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