(5) Knoxville Ice Bears 2, (4) Fayetteville FireAntz 0

Knoxville netminder Brian Billett got the nod as the Ice Bears’ opened their President’s Cup title defense at the Crown Center in Fayetteville. The pressure of the postseason didn’t faze goaltender from Boston College as Billett made 28 saves in a 2-0 shutout of the FireAntz.

Ice Bears winger Andrew Bonazza provided all the offense Billett would need with a goal from the left side 13:19 into the game. Knoxville got an insurance marker from newcomer Mike Hill at the 9:04 mark of the third period. Sean Bonar returned to the Fayetteville crease for the first time since his return from the ECHL Wichita Thunder, making 16 of 18 saves.

The first-round series moves to Knoxville tonight for Game 2 at 7:35 ET. The Ice Bears can advance to the second round with a win, otherwise the series moves back to Fayetteville for a third and deciding game on Sunday.

(1) Peoria Rivermen 2, (8) Macon Mayhem 0

With Peoria’s Carver Arena unavailable for hockey, the Rivermen/Mayhem series moved to the Owens Center for Game 2 on Friday night. The Rivermen’s practice rink, along with a raucous sellout crowd, proved too much for the visiting Macon Mayhem. Peoria dominated throughout the game, putting 42 shots – along with an unsuccessful penalty shot – on Mayhem goalie Garrett Bartus. Bartus was brilliant, but got no offensive support as Peoria goalie Kyle Rank needed only 20 saves to secure his second career SPHL postseason shutout.

Alec Hagaman put home the game winning goal 6:40 into the game during one of many offensive flurries by the Rivermen. Walker Wintoneak scored an insurance marker 4:30 into the third period to seal the game. Last night’s game was a chippy affair, with 76 penalty minutes doled out between the teams. By game’s end, Macon’s frustrations boiled over and gloves dropped three separate times between the teams.

The first Game 3 of this year’s President’s Cup Playoffs will take place tonight at 7:30 CT in the Owens Center. A Peoria win will send the Rivermen to the second round for the first time since the Rivs joined the SPHL.

Tonight’s Games

(4) Fayetteville FireAntz at (5) Knoxville Ice Bears

Knoxville leads series, 1-0.

(2) Pensacola Ice Flyers at (7) Huntsville Havoc

Pensacola leads series, 1-0.

(8) Macon Mayhem at (1) Peoria Rivermen

Series tied, 1-1.

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