At 7:35 p.m. Saturday night, the Knoxville Ice Bears took the rink at the Civic Coliseum needing one win to reach the SPHL semifinals. At 12:40 a.m. Sunday morning, they had finally earned that win.
It took 109 minutes of hockey, but Lawrence Cornellier’s game-winner at 9:01 in the third overtime period finally sent the Ice Bears home victorious.
Elliot Grauer scored twice, while David Brancik’s goal was the only one netted in the third period to tie the game at 3.
Zoltan Hetenyi stopped 48 of the 51 shots he faced.
The game was just three minutes short for the longest game in SPHL history.
Three-seed Pensacola challenged the Ice Bears as the playoffs began, but Knoxville handled business in their two wins, routing the Ice Flyers on road ice 6-2 last week before Saturday’s marathon win.
They’ll take on the league’s top regular season team Peoria in the semifinals. Knoxville will travel to face the Rivermen Wednesday night for game 1.