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Ice Bears pour it on Thunderbolts in 7-2 win

Anthony McVeigh and Bryce Nielsen each scored two goals and the Knoxville Ice Bears won their sixth straight game with a 7-2 over the Evansville Thunderbolts on Wednesday night.

The Ice Bears are 7-0-1 in their last eight games. Evansville has lost three of its last four.

Knoxville fell behind early when Evansville’s Seth Swenson carried the puck through the right circle and deked toward the hash before his wrist shot split Joe Murdaca’s pads just 35 seconds into the game.

The Ice Bears tied the game when Gehrett Sargis’ shot from the slot was saved by Braeden Ostepchuk and McVeigh put the rebound in the net at 10:10 of the first.

McVeigh scored his second of the night just 1:50 into the second to give Knoxville a 2-1 lead. Brady Fluerent fed McVeigh from the corner to the right circle and McVeigh’s wrister beat Ostepchuk over his glove.

Evansville tied the game with a breakaway goal from Stanislav Dzakhov one minute later. Jacob Smith found Dzakhov behind the defense and the former Ice Bear skated in and slipped a backhand by Murdaca.

Knoxville’s power-play goal at 13:02 gave the Ice Bears the lead again. Scott Cuthrell won an offensive zone faceoff and slid the puck back to Cooper Jones, who’s blast from the right point stayed low and beat the Evansville goalie five-hole.

The Ice Bears doubled the lead when Ricky Kramer’s backhand saucer pass across the slot found Riley Christensen in the left circle on the rush. Christensen tapped the puck back into the slot where Jacob Benson put the puck away behind Ostepchuk at 16:58 to take a two-goal lead into the dressing room.

Nielsen scored his first goal off a 2-on-1 when he took a pass from Charlie Granath, skated up through the slot and dangled around Hayden Hulton before ripping a shot to the top right corner at 8:58 of the third.

Stefan Brucato poked the puck through Ostepchuk’s pads on a second effort in front of the crease at 14:25 and Nielsen added his second with a wrist shot from the right circle at 18:18 to cap off the scoring.

Murdaca made 28 saves for Knoxville and picked up his fourth win of the season. Ostepchuck stopped 33 shots for Evansville.

Knoxville returns to action when it hosts Roanoke on Friday. The Thunderbolts head to Illinois Friday night to take on Quad City.

ABOUT The Knoxville Ice Bears: The Knoxville Ice Bears organization began in 2002 and was an inaugural charter member of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) in 2004. As four-time SPHL Champions, the Ice Bears are an experienced and established organization, offering the city and its’ visitors a balanced product of highlight-reel hockey, unique and exciting intermission activity and endless fan interaction, presenting the most affordable, family-friendly way to enjoy sports and entertainment. Season, Partial Season and Flex Tickets are now on sale.  For more information, visit or call (865) 525-7825.