5 game winning streak culminates in a shutout
It could have been those Nextel Cup Driver Scott Riggs jerseys that the Ice Bears were wearing this weekend or it could be that the team has finally shook the dust of themselves, either way the Bears are back. If Fayetteville came into Knoxville with the hopes of ending their losing streak against us, they were dead wrong. The last couple of times these two teams met it was Fayetteville that left Knoxville with a 4-3 win and a shutout. The Ice Bears were on a 3-0 winning streak and were looking to extend it to 4 against their opponent.
Knoxville got things started off early Friday night when Kevin Swider scored the first goal of the game only 4:48 into the first period. It was only ten minutes later when Marcus Forsburg slapped a shot past Fayetteville goalie Glen Ridler that put the Bears up 2-0.
Amazingly enough there were no penalties called the entire first period. The linesmen and the referee were letting these two teams play hockey and the near capacity crowd was loving every minute of it.
The second period wasn’t much different as team captain K.J. Voorhees was able to drop two goals past backup goalie Chad Collins to even further extend the Ice Bears lead to 4-0. It seemed as though the tides had turned against the Fire Antz as Knoxville continued to melt their defense.
Fayetteville did show a sign of life still while killing a penalty. Steven Roberts picked off the puck and headed toward Knoxville’s Terry Dunbar in a one on one encounter. Roberts skated to the left and as Dunbar dove to block the shot the Fayetteville right wing fired the puck over Dunbar’s left shoulder to cancel any hopes of a Knoxville shutout.
The 3rd period saw no scoring and Knoxville finally took down the team that had been plaguing them for the past few months. The loss was the once dominant Fire Antz 4th loss in a row and Knoxville’s 4th consecutive victory as well.
Columbus had been sitting around in Knoxville for a few days before their game with them on Saturday and one would think that they would have learned something by watching them play Friday night. That however was not the case. The first period of the game began and ended just like the 3rd period of the night before had been. No one scored any goals and both teams defense looked to be holding strong. It wasn’t until the second period that the game finally got under way.
It wasn’t even 2 minutes into the second when Kevin Swider once again made the first goal of the game to give Knoxville the lead. Fast forward to 16 minutes into the period as Todd MacIsaac scores a goal on a power play and then repeats his performance a few minutes later after a face off to bring the Ice Bears to a 3-0 lead.
As the 3rd period began Knoxville was safe behind a cushion lead and began to play a more defensive game, dumping the puck out of their end as much as possible and changing the lines frequently. Mike Craigen did what he does best and positioned himself in front of the goalie, effectively blocking his line of sight. This was all that Darren Cain needed to fire a shot through 3 men and past Columbus goalie Chad Rycroft once again putting Knoxville 4 points ahead of their opponent.
Unfortunately for the Cottonmouths there would be no last second comebacks or goals. Knoxville drained the clock and as the crowd of 4,776 stood on their feet and counted down the last remaining seconds Knoxville celebrated on ice as they took home their first shutout of the season. With the two wins over the weekend and a few key loses across the league Knoxville now holds an 8 point lead in the race for the playoffs. Knoxville next plays the Huntsville Havoc on Friday March 4th.