KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Three Knoxville Ice Bears have been called up to the ECHL.
Ice Bears coach Jeff Carr said Tuesday that forward Dino Balsamo will join the Atlanta Gladiators, forward Andrew Bellant is going to the Indy Fuel, and forward Steven Leonard has been added to the Norfolk Admirals’ roster.
The moves leave a significant hole to fill for Knoxville who stands in third place (15-3-0-2, 32 points) in the Southern Professional Hockey League, nine points behind the league-leading Huntsville Havoc.
“It’s very important we stay the course,” Carr said of the recent roster attrition. “We need to do our best at handling the controllables and continue to do the simple things extraordinarily well.”
Balsamo has 23 points this year for Knoxville, which leads the team. He had a goal and an assist in regulation of Sunday’s 3-2 win against Roanoke before scoring twice in the shootout – including the game winner.
Bellant is tied with Balsamo for the team lead with 11 goals scored this season. Four of Bellant’s goals have been game winners. He scored the first goal of the game in Sunday’s win and has 21 points on the season.
Leonard has two goals and two assists in 16 games for Knoxville this year. He has five fights and is third in the league with 61 penalty minutes.
The three transactions now bring Knoxville’s total in-season call ups to six, joining forward Carter Cowlthorp (South Carolina Stingrays), defenseman Andrew McLean (Orlando Solar Bears) and goalie Jimmy Poreda (Worchester Railers).
The Ice Bears next game is Thursday against Huntsville in Alabama. The Havoc are 2-0 against Knoxville this season.
The Ice Bears will return for a back-to-back series with the Pensacola Ice Flyers this weekend. Knoxville will host its Viva Knox Vegas promotion on New Year’s Eve before hosting its “The Hangover” night on New Year’s Day. Puck drop each night is at 6 p.m. at the Knoxville Coliseum.