KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knoxville Ice Bears season ended Saturday when the Huntsville Havoc’s Nolan Kaiser scored the game-winning goal at 10:46 of the overtime period.
That gave Huntsville a 3-2 win in game two to win in the SPHL semifinal series over the Knoxville Ice Bears and advance to the President’s Cup Finals.
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Huntsville is the defending lead champion. The Havoc will face Birmingham next week. Knoxville was attempting to force a decisive game three in pursuit of its fifth championship.
Following an icing call against Knoxville, Huntsville poked the puck back to Kaiser at the right point. He sent the puck through traffic and slipped it between the pads of Hayden Stewart to end Knoxville’s season.
Spencer Metcalfe fired a blast from the high slot at 3:09 of the third to tie the game and eventually force overtime. Mitchell Mueller dropped the puck from the right hash back to Metcalfe, who feigned a shot before letting the puck loose on net.
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With David Brancik in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct, Huntsville took advantage of the power play when Kyle Sharkey redirected Connor Schmidt’s one-timer from the left circle at 9:45 of the first. Stewart got a piece of the puck, but it trickled behind him and into net.
The deficit could’ve been worse for Knoxville. A backdoor pass from Sy Nutkevitch got behind Stewart and left Schmidt with an open net off the right side of the crease, but Doug Rose broke up the play and kept the score at 1-0 heading into the first intermission.
Nolan Kaiser found Christian Powers at the center of the Knoxville blue line with an empty slot. Powers skated in and lifted a wrist shot over Stewart’s right shoulder to give Huntsville a 2-0 lead at 7:14 of the second.
Brancik answered for Knoxville 30 seconds later to cut the deficit in half. Scott Cuthrell slipped the puck to Bryce Nielsen at the bottom of the right circle, who then found Brancik across the slot with a wide-open night.