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Brady Heppner scored a shorthanded goal with just over five minutes remaining and the Knoxville Ice Bears fell to the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs 5-4 at the Berglund Center Saturday night.
Knoxville started the game with only 11 skaters due to multiple suspensions and injuries from Friday night’s game in Roanoke. The Rail Yard Dawgs had 14 skaters available.
After Mac Jansen had tied the game earlier in the third with a power play goal, Heppner grabbed a loose puck in the neutral zone and got loose on a breakaway. Heppner skated in and beat Bailey MacBurnie’s five-hole to give Roanoke its first and only lead of the game.
Nick Pryce opened the scoring for Knoxville with a quick release from in front of the crease at 3:28 of the first. A shot by P.J. DiMartino was deflected over the crossbar. Bailey Conger collected the puck behind the net and slipped it out to Pryce, who beat the blocker of Brody Claeys for his seventh of the season.
Matt O’Shaughnessy made it 2-0 for Knoxville when he got a fortunate bounce off the crossbar. O’Shaughnessy carried the puck up the left wing and made his way to the high slot, where his wrist shot hit the iron, bounced off the back of Claeys and into the net. That ended the night for Claeys, who was replaced by Austyn Roudebush. Claeys finished with three saves.
Nick DeVito scored from the left circle with a backhand to make it 2-1 at 6:38 of the second just moments after a Roanoke goal had been disallowed.
Pryce scored his second of the night with a one-timer from the right circle at 13:22. With Knoxville on the power play, Knoxville worked the puck around the zone and Pryce beat Roudebush down low to the short side post to make it 3-1.
Pryce completed the hat trick when Jagger Williamson held a clearing attempt at the right point and found Pryce all alone at center. Pryce skated in, maneuvered around Roudebush and slid a backhand into the open net at 17:17.
Nick Ford scored a power play goal from the right circle to make it 4-2 with 31 seconds left in the period. DeVito netted his second of the night 17 seconds later to cut Knoxville’s lead to one at the second intermission.
The two teams will head back to Knoxville on Thursday for their fourth consecutive meeting against one another.
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.