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Roanoke scored three unanswered goals late in the second period and the Ice Bears fell to the Rail Yard Dawgs 3-2 at the Berglund Center Saturday night.
Knoxville had several chances in the first period to take the lead early, but couldn’t beat Austyn Roudebush. He stopped Rex Moe’s close-range shot from the left side, deflected a breakaway by Cam Hough and swallowed a shot from Brett Ouderkirk in the right circle.
Bailey Conger finally got the Ice Bears on the board on the power play when he redirected the puck in the slot at 15:49. Justin MacDonald fired a shot from the blue line and Conger got a piece of it to find the net for his 25th goal of the season.
Roanoke had a pair of chances to tie the game in the final moments of the first, but Kristian Stead got the blocker on a shot by Nick Ford from the high slot and kicked away a breakaway chance by Billy Vizzo right before the first period expired.
Rex Moe gave Knoxville a 2-0 advantage with a wrist shot from the left circle at 8:34 of the second. Conger poked the puck up the wing to create a two-on-one. Moe carried the puck to the circle and beat Roudebush up high.
Roanoke took the lead before the intermission with three goals in the final five minutes of the period. Matt O’Dea scored after a wayward shot bounced behind the net and to him in the circle for a rebound. Gehrett Sargis redirected the puck from in front of the crease over Stead’s glove. And Josh Nenadal beat Stead with a wrist shot from the left circle.
Knoxville thought it had scored late in the second, but Conger’s backdoor tap-in hit the post and rolled across the goal line before Roudebush covered it and was ruled not to have crossed the line.
Knoxville made one final push in the last minute to tie the game in the third, but Roudebush blocked a shot from the perimeter and covered the ensuing rebound. Stead finished with 36 saves. Roudebush made 39 stops for Roanoke.
The Ice Bears will head to Huntsville to begin its quarterfinal playoff series on Thursday. Roanoke will face Evansville in the first round.
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.