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Julian Sime made 37 saves in his professional debut and the Knoxville Ice Bears defeated the Macon Mayhem 5-3 at the Macon Coliseum Saturday night.
Five different players scored for the Ice Bears, winners of two straight. Macon dropped its third consecutive game.
Cole McKechney got the scoring started for Knoxville when he buried a rebound for his sixth of the year at 14:17 of the first. Nolan Slachetka tried to shoot from the left circle, but his attempt was blocked. Slachetka regained the puck and sent it on net, where Cody Karpinski kicked it back out to the slot and McKechney put it back on net.
Carter Cowlthorp scored 32 seconds later with his first of the season. Rourke Russell picked off a breakout pass above the left circle and skated through the high slot. Russell dropped the puck back to the slot for Cowlthorp, who lifted a wrist shot past Karpinski.
Macon converted a power play with 51 seconds left in the first period to cut its deficit in half. Rhett Kingston shot from the right circle and Sime stopped it with his right pad. Jesse Anderson found the loose puck in front of the crease and capitalized on the rebound for his fourth of the year.
Bailey Conger put Knoxville ahead 3-1 with his 15th of the year nine minutes into the second period. Conger carried the puck through the neutral zone to the right circle, sped around Wyatt Trumbley and moved past Karpinski to the far side post before slipping a backhand into the net.
Justin Portillo scored his first as an Ice Bear at 15:50 to make it 4-1. Nick Pryce fed a backhand pass from the right wall to the slot where Portillo skated in and teed off on the one-timer to beat Karpinski down low.
Reid Yochim scored off a screened shot 11 seconds later to make it 4-2.
Macon had a couple of chances to cut the deficit further before the second intermission, but Sime kicked away a one-timer from the slot and gloved a point-blank shot from in front of the crease. He shut down a Mayhem 3-on-1 in the third period when he stopped a short-range shot to his left.
Kyler Matthews added to Knoxville’s lead in the third period with a goal from the slot.
T.J. Sneath scored a power play goal with 22 seconds left to cap off the scoring.
The Ice Bears head south for a weekend pair against Pensacola on Friday and Saturday. The Mayhem are at Evansville Friday night.
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 and five-time regular season 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 www.knoxvilleicebears.com or call (865) 525-7825.