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John Moncovich had a goal and an assist, Conor O’Brien stopped 25-of-27 shots and the Knoxville Ice Bears fell to the Fayetteville Marksmen 5-2 Saturday night at Crown Coliseum in North Carolina.
Brady Fleurent had a goal and an assist for Knoxville. Jordy Stallard also scored for the Ice Bears. Fayetteville is 4-0-1 in its last five games.
The Ice Bears withstood an early Fayetteville attack thanks to a handful of quality saves from Zane Steeves. He stopped a rebound on the right side of the crease early in the game and thwarted a 2-on-1 with a pad save from the left circle. He also blocked a breakaway attempt from Anthony Yurkins.
Knoxville eventually put it together on the other end when Fleurent knocked the puck free in the Fayetteville zone and slid it across the crease to Stallard sitting on the backdoor for Stallard’s second goal of the season. Stallard’s quick release on the shot made its way past O’Brien at 12:31 of the first.
Fayetteville answered quickly in the second after Cole McKechney took a tripping minor less than a minute into the period. Billy Jerry notched the ensuing power play goal at 2:37 off a rebound that beat a diving Steeves into the net to tie the game.
The Marksmen jumped out in front when an extended offensive possession in the Knoxville zone ultimately found Todd Goehring alone in the left circle with heavy traffic by the crease. Goehring’s wrister zipped over a screened Steeves and into the top shelf of the net at 14:26 to make it 2-1 at the second intermission.
Brendon Michaelian provided an insurance marker for Fayetteville at 6:47 of the third when Steeves appeared to go down with an injury in the crease with the puck in the Knoxville zone. Ryan Lieth carted the puck behind the net and slipped it out to the left circle where Michaelian put it past a falling Steeves, who left the game and did not return. Steeves finished with 33 saves and was replaced by Kristian Stead, who made 11 saves.
Moncovich notched his goal at 12:55 of the third on a wraparound attempt from behind the net to make it 4-1 Fayetteville.
After a pass into the neutral zone was misplayed by the Marksmen, Fleurent raced down and took the puck on a breakaway where he beat O’Brien with a wrist shot for a shorthanded goal at 17:02. Simon Boyko scored before the power play ended to provide the final score.
Knoxville heads to Huntsville Thursday night. Fayetteville finishes the weekend with a visit from Pensacola on Sunday afternoon.
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.