The Knoxville Ice Bears are gearing up for their home game opener against the Evansville Thunderbolts this Friday at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum.
“Coming off the heels of last season, where we were very fast, very dynamic and putting up six goals a game,” said President and General Manager for the Ice Bears, Mike Murray, “our team toughness was in question sometimes,but that’s all going to change dramatically this year.”
For second-year returner and Czech Republic native David Brančík, the team is looking promising for the 2018-2019 season.
“We’ve got a few new guys that didn’t play here last year, so we’ve got to work on some stuff on the ice, but I think we’ve got a group of guys who can achieve a lot during the season,” Brančík said.
Rookie player, Vojtech Zemlicka, said he’s already looking forward to the end of the season.
“I’m hoping we get to the championship,” Zemlicka said. “That’s all that matters.”
For Belrusian player Ilya Bobko, it’s all about the fans.
“Without the fans, the players are nothing,” Bobko said.
Murray said whether you’re a seasoned fan or you’ve never been to an ice-hockey game, there’s a game for everybody this season.
“We pride ourselves on welcoming in those people who have never been to a game because we are 1,000 percent confident that when they leave, they will have had a great time,” Murray said.
The Ice Bears are headed into their 17th season and Murray said over the past few years, the team has continued to consistently fill the building, averaging approximately 4,000 attendees per game in a 5,000 seat arena.
Murray said the organization has a little ways to go in getting the arena filled at 100 percent capacity, but they have intentionally created special promotional nights for fans to come in.
“We have probably the best promotional calendar that we’ve ever seen. Anything from Harry Potter night and Star Wars Night to Weiner dog races and baby races, all of these promo nights, we have created for our season ticket holders and newly-found Ice Bears fans.”
The Knoxville Ice Bears are facing the Evansville Thunderbolts this Friday and encourage fans to join them at their pre-game, opening night tailgate in the plaza beginning at 5:30 p.m.