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Dino Balsamo scored twice in the third period, Kristian Stead made 21 saves and the Knoxville Ice Bears rallied to defeat the Pensacola Ice Flyers 2-1 at the Pensacola Bay Center Saturday night.
Brett Ouderkirk assisted on both Knoxville goals to help the Ice Bears win their third straight. Pensacola has lost three in a row after having a third-period lead in each game.
After more than 50 minutes of scoreless hockey for Knoxville, Balsamo tied the game for the Ice Bears with a snap shot from the slot at 10:56 of the third. Ouderkirk carried the puck into the zone and dropped it back to Balsamo, who skated to center before ripping the puck past Brad Arvanitis.
Balsamo put the Ice Bears ahead to stay when he finished off a 3-on-2 from the left circle three minutes later. Bailey Conger took the puck out of the zone and chipped it to Ouderkirk on the right wing. Ouderkirk skated towards the right circle before sliding the puck across to Balsamo on the left side. Balsamo had space to skate in towards the crease before releasing the puck into the net.
Dallas Comeau opened the scoring for Pensacola with a power play goal at 6:50 of the first. Following a high-sticking call against Razmuz Waxin-Engback, the Ice Flyers worked the puck around the perimeter with the special teams unit. Comeau sent the puck from a sharp angle towards the crease, where Stead got a piece of it before it slipped under his pads and into the net.
Knoxville had several chances to get on the board in the first, but couldn’t beat Arvanitis. Waxin-Engback had a look from in front off a takeaway, John DeRoche missed a backhand alone by the crease and Conger was stopped by Arvanitis on a short breakaway.
Pensacola nearly added to its lead before the break, but Stead dove to block a rebound from entering the goal.
Knoxville continued to find chances throughout the second period, but a shot by Balsamo from the left circle hit the crossbar and stayed out and another attempt from Balsamo at the right hash was deflected before Arvanitis dove to cover the loose puck. The Ice Bears failed to convert a pair of power plays and Pensacola held its lead at the second intermission.
The two teams will face off again at the Bay Center Sunday night to wrap up the weekend.
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.