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For more information, contact: Joel Silverberg, Director of Broadcasting (865) 525-7825,

Dino Balsamo had a three-point night in Knoxville’s win over Fayetteville. PHOTO: Grace Lord.

Dino Balsamo had a goal and two assists, Kristian Stead made 26 saves and the Knoxville Ice Bears clinched a playoff spot with a 4-2 win over the Fayetteville Marksmen Saturday night in front of a sold out Knoxville Civic Coliseum.

The Ice Bears (30-8-3) have now won four straight and have clinched a playoff spot in each season in franchise history. The Marksmen (26-11-1) had a nine-game win streak snapped with the loss.

Knoxville scored the opening goal when Kyler Matthews netted his second of the season at 4:09 of the first. Andrew Bellant carried the puck into the zone on the right wing and slipped it into the slot to Matthews, who beat Brent Moran off a quick release.

Fayetteville tied the game three minutes later when Tommy Besinger kept in a clearing attempt, split two Ice Bears and slipped the puck between Kristian Stead’s pads from the low slot. The Marksmen had several chances to take the lead at the intermission, but a two-on-one ended with a shot hitting the crossbar and a goal at 17:34 was disallowed for goaltender interference.

Knoxville retook the lead when Dino Balsamo punched in a loose puck at 7:48. Balsamo dished the puck to the left circle to Jared Nash, who put it on net. Moran failed to cover the puck and Balsamo cleaned up the rebound for his 21st goal of the season.

Fayetteville nearly tied the game with a couple of power play opportunities, but several stops by Stead kept Knoxville in front, including a sliding kick save to deny the Marksmen on a two-on-one.

Brady Fleurent redirected a shot by Matthews in front of the crease to give the Ice Bears a 3-1 lead at 3:27 of the third. Knoxville worked the puck around the perimeter and found Matthews in space atop the right circle before sending a blast goalward that Fleurent got a piece of for his fifth of the season.

After Fayetteville cut the deficit in half with a Zach Remers wrist shot from the left circle, Knoxville successfully three Marksmen power plays to preserve the lead, including a four-minute double minor against Stepan Timofeyev. Jason Price scored an empty-net goal to cap off the scoring with 37 seconds left. Moran finished with 16 saves for Fayetteville.

The two teams will face off again Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. EST. Tickets are still available at

ABOUT The Knoxville Ice Bears: The Knoxville Ice Bears organization began in 2002 and was an inaugural charter member of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) in 2004. As four-time SPHL Champions, the Ice Bears are an experienced and established organization, offering the city and its’ visitors a balanced product of highlight-reel hockey, unique and exciting intermission activity and endless fan interaction, presenting the most affordable, family-friendly way to enjoy sports and entertainment. Season, Partial Season and Flex Tickets are now on sale.  For more information, visit or call (865) 525-7825.