Knoxville traveled to Columbus to take on the Columbus Cottonmouths knowing that Knoxville was either headed to the SPHL semi-finals or was headed for a series deciding game three on home ice on Easter Sunday.
Knoxville weathered early pressure from the cottonmouths in the first five minutes. It's a tactic that Craigen has used all season. "We knew they were going to come out early and try and get one past Hince. We played smart and let the game come to us then started to exploit our speed and puck control once both teams had settled in."
The tactic paid off as Knoxville had the better of play in a majority of the period and was rewarded with at 1-0 lead when Eric Satim banked a pass off the boards to Emery Olauson. Olauson wound up and blasted a one-timer past Andrew Lowen at 10:38 of the first period.
The second period saw the Ice Bears weather a strong push by the Cottonmouths in the first half of the period before scoring two goals in a four and a half minute stretch.
Ice Bears goalie Bryan Hince was forced to make several dramatic and acrobatic saves in the second period. Following a quick three shot burst from Columbus which saw Hince kick out Columbus's best scoring chance of the period, defenseman Jeremy Klaver picked up the puck in the defensive right corner and fired a three line pass to a breaking Emery Olauson. Olauson absorbed a slash and shifted to his right, sliding the puck past a sprawling Lowen, giving Knoxville a 2-0 advantage at 12:43 of the second period.
Four minutes and nineteen second later, the Ice Bears capitalized on a poorly timed cross-checking penalty by Cottonmouths enforcer Daniel Amesbury. A bouncing puck in the middle slot was played by an onrushing Jeremy Klaver who pushed the puck through the five-hole of all -star goalie Andrew Lowen giving Knoxville a 3-0 lead.
In net for the Ice Bears, Bryan Hince turned aside shot after as he backstopped his second consecutive shutout. Stopping all 44 shots he faced during the first round, including 35 in game two.
Knoxville will progress to the SPHL semi-finals against a team to be determined.
The Knoxville Ice Bears