KNOXVILLE, Tenn. –  As the offseason comes to a close most SPHL teams are quietly heading into the preseason, but not the Knoxville Ice Bears.

In the past week, the Ice Bears announced two significant returns to the 2019-20 roster. The first is veteran do-it-all defenseman Gehrett Sargis, which was quickly followed up by the announcement that forward Bryce Nielsen will also be returning for the upcoming campaign. Both players will be crucial in Knoxville’s efforts to win their fifth championship.

The 30-year-old Sargis has been a mainstay on the Ice Bears roster for coach Jeff Carr. Sargis came into the league being able to play both forward and defenseman, making him an extremely versatile and valuable roster acquisition. Sargis has missed just 12 regular-season games since making the with Knoxville roster out of training camp in 2017, proving his reliability on both sides of the puck.

“Even though he’s played as a D-man the majority of his time in Knoxville, we expect him to contribute heavily to our offense this season,” Carr said of Sargis’ expectations for the coming season.

For his career, Sargis has 36 points (15G, 21A) in 113 career regular-season games with Pensacola and Knoxville.

Nielsen is looking to build off of a promising rookie year with the Ice Bears. After carving out a spot in the lineup last season, Nielsen quickly became of the team’s most reliable players, consistently being a smart and diligent player around the net.

“We put him on the ice late in games to score big goals or to preserve leads, because we know we can rely on him, every night,” Carr said of his second-year forward.

All signs point to Nielsen taking a huge step in Carr’s system this year. Nielsen played in 41 games during his rookie campaign, scoring 22 points (13G, 9A). In his second year, look for Nielsen to be a mainstay in the Ice Bears lineup and significantly raise that 22-point total.

The league announced on Monday the IceBears will play in two preseason games. The first is Friday, October 11 at home against Huntsville, with a faceoff set for 7:30 pm. After that game, the teams will play at 3 pm Central time the next day at the Huntsville IcePlex.