Knoxville went a perfect 4-for-4 on the power play and also scored twice while shorthanded and the Ice Bears defeated the Birmingham Bulls 8-5 Saturday night at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. The win clinches the No. 2 seed in the President's Cup Playoffs for Knoxville.
After entering the third period trailing 4-3, Knoxville scored five times in the third period to pull away from Birmingham and snap a five-game skid.
Stefan Brucato tied the game 44 seconds into the third when he and Lincoln Griffin finished off a two-on-one while shorthanded. The Ice Bears took the lead on Jacob Benson's between-the-legs shot from the left side of the crease on the power play at 4:05.
After Jacob Smith tied the game for Birmingham, Scott Cuthrell scored off a rebound at 8:33 to put Knoxville ahead for good. Austin Plevy located a loose puck by the crease and managed to score while falling down to give the Ice Bears a two-goal advantage. Andrew McLean scored an empty-netter to cap off the scoring.
Brady Fleurent opened the scoring for Knoxville while shorthanded after Kenton Helgesen cleared the puck down the ice from behind his own net. Anthony McVeigh chased after it behind the Birmingham defense and fed Fleurent from behind the net into the high slot. Fleurent skated in and buried the puck past Hayden Stewart for his seventh goal of the season.
Lincoln Griffin scored after a broken play behind the Birmingham net resulted in a turnover and Stewart lost sight of the puck. Griffin put the puck on net from the slot at 3:25 of the second.
Mike Davis scored 22 seconds later to pull Birmingham within one. He tied the game less than three minutes later off a goal from the slot. Davis completed the hat-trick on the power plat at 11:12 of the period to put Birmingham ahead 3-2.
McVeigh tied the game on the power play when he redirected a pass from McLean from the left circle at the slot. McVeigh found an open space of ice in front of the crease and chipped the puck past Stewart at 13:32.
Birmingham retook the lead less than two minutes later when Logan Nelson scored on an open shot from the high slot at 14:46. Peter Di Salvo managed to get a piece of the puck, but it bounced in across the goal line behind him. Di Salvo was relieved for Austyn Roudebush, who gave up one goal on 12 shots. Stewart made 21 saves for the Bulls.
Knoxville will host Macon on Tuesday for its final home game of the regular season. Birmingham will return to Alabama and will welcome the Ice Bears to the Pelham Civic Complex on Friday.
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Knoxville Ice Bears right wing Jacob Benson
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