KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Knoxville Ice Bears returned to the Civic Coliseum Friday night to take on the Macon Mayhem. The Ice Bears came into the game looking to extend their eight-game point streak. The Mayhem were looking to continue their ascension into a playoff spot.
Knoxville came out on the attack in the first period. They were led by their third and committed to a strong forecheck. This fast start would pay off for the Ice Bears as Josh Pietrantonio would beat Hayden Stewart just four minutes into the game. Macon didn’t let the quick goal discourage them. They stuck to their game plan and continued to fight for loose pucks and create a disturbance in Knoxville’s game.
Macon’s plan would work. Knoxville started to play out of sync and disjointed, which the Mayhem jumped on. Danny Cesarz and Stephen Pierog were able to create high-quality chances, but Joseph Murdaca stood tall in net for Knoxville, shutting down all of their attempts. Late in the period, Scott Cuthrell would put a booming slapshot past Stewart to give Knoxville a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission.
The second period was a continuation of much of the first. Knoxville stayed in their lackadaisical style that lead to turnovers and a soft forecheck. Macon would continue to press and try to change the tone of the game by playing smart and sound hockey.
Colton Wolter would score for Macon eight minutes into the second period to give the Mayhem more life. After the goal, Knoxville changed up their lines to try and get the team going, but they just continued to be out of sync. With the help of solid goaltending and good defense, the Ice Bears were able to finish the period with their 2-1 lead.
Knoxville wasn’t able to flip the script and change their play in the third period. Macon was able to carry play and create chances from the Ice Bears disjointed play and turnovers. Caleb Cameron and Dylan Denomme tried to tie the game for Macon with creative passes and hustle, but Knoxville’s defense and goaltending was up to the challenge of keeping them off the board.
Late the period, Cody Walsh laid a thunderous hip check on Oscar Arfelt that led to a fight between Cesarz and Dwyer Tschantz. Tschantz fell to the ground and Cesarz tried to capitalize, but Tschantz picked up Cesarz and slammed him to the ground. This would be the end of the night for both players. Macon would make a late push to tie the game, but Knoxville would hold on to secure the 2-1 victory.
When asked about how his team played, Knoxville Head Coach Jeff Carr said:
“I thought we were awful tonight. I thought it was a miserable game. We didn’t take the body. We had a little bit of push early in the first and early in the second. Other than that, we played the game the wrong way. We didn’t move the puck well, we weren’t crisp, we didn’t get the puck deep, and we didn’t take the body. They outplayed us for 50 minutes.”
With the win, Knoxville has extended their point streak to nine games. The Ice Bears hit the road for a Saturday night battle in Huntsville against the Havoc.
Follow JT on Twitter for live, in-game coverage and various news & notes regarding the Knoxville Ice Bears! Don’t forget to also follow The Sin Bin on Twitter and Facebook for all additional SPHL, ECHL, and AHL minor league hockey coverage and insight!