April 5, 2012 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) - Knoxville Ice Bears
KNOXVILLE, TN - The Ice Bears kicked off their best-of-three series against the Pensacola Ice Flyers tonight at the Civic Coliseum. Physical play dominated throughout and the hate between the two teams grew early. Ice Bears had difficulty generating offense and dropped their first game in the second round of SPHL playoffs, 4-1.
An aggressive first period turned out nine penalties, but only one goal. At 4:17, Mike Towns delivered a huge check on Ryan Hohl, knocking him to the ice. Hohl dropped his gloves to challenge Towns who overpowered the disgruntled opponent threw him to the ice. The two combatants were assessed 5 minute penalties for fighting and Hohl was served with an additional 10 minute misconduct.
At 9:54, Knoxville's Kyle VanderMale was sent to the penalty box for high sticking. With 28 seconds left in his penalty, Kevin Swider joined him in the box for tripping. The Ice Flyers capitalized on the 5-on-3 advantage and scored their first goal. The power play goal was the only marker of the first period, sending the Ice Bears to the locker room down by 1.
Pensacola attacked quickly in the second, notching their second goal of the game at 3:59. The Ice Bears skated two power plays during the period but weren't able to find the back of the net. Ice Bears netminder Kyle Rank held Pensacola off for the remainder of the period to keep the score at 2-0 after 40 minutes of play.
The Ice Bears came out with renewed intensity in the third period, but the Ice Flyers netted another early goal just 2:24 into the third, extending their lead 3-0.
With 2:22 reaming in the final period, the Ice Bears pulled Rank to skate a sixth attacker as the Ice Bears set up for a faceoff in the offensive zone. At 17:48, Ricky Helmbrecht fired a pass to Mark Van Vliet who fired a snapshot to the crease. Tyler Fletcher redirected the puck into the net to push the score to 3-1.
The Ice Bears pulled Rank again, and with 1:19 remaining, Pensacola scored on the empty net for the final 4-1 score.
The Ice Bears are headed to Pensacola to skate the second game of the series on Saturday night. Join Ice Bears fans at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the live broadcast at 8:05 p.m. If a third game is necessary, the teams will return to Knoxville on Sunday, April 8 with the puck dropping at 5 pm.