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Kristian Stead made 30 saves and stopped all five attempts in the shootout and the Knoxville Ice Bears defeated the Huntsville Havoc 2-1 at the Von Braun Center in Alabama Tuesday night.
Stefan Brucato scored the only goal of the shootout for the Ice Bears (20-3-2), who have now won seven straight. Brucato skated in through the left circle, hesitated, pulled the puck in front of the crease and back again before slipping it past Hunter Vorva on the short side post. Stead stopped the next three shooters, denying Dylan Riley with a blocker save in the fifth round to seal the win.
The Ice Bears tied the game at 6:14 of the third when a long bank pass from J.B. Baker was taken in the neutral zone by Jared Nash, who managed to skate past Nik Kalpouzos for a breakaway. Nash finished off the play for his second goal of the season.
After Knoxville took a penalty with under two minutes left in the third, the Ice Bears killed off the penalty and Stead made a series of big saves to ultimately force the shootout, including a pair of kick saves on two backdoor chances for the Havoc and a sliding stop with the glove off a blast from the right circle.
Knoxville nearly won it in overtime with a wrist shot from the left circle, but Dino Balsamo’s shot hit the crossbar and stayed out.
The game went scoreless through the first period despite some high-quality chances for both teams. Huntsville (23-3-2) nearly scored first when Sy Nutkevitch made a saucer pass to Tyler Piacentini to the right side of the crease, but his shot was denied by a sliding kick save from Stead.
Knoxville’s best chance came on a breakaway attempt after Nash accelerated through the neutral zone to accept a stretch pass, but Nash’s shot missed the right post.
Sy Nutkevitch put Huntsville in front early in the second at 3:51. Dylan Riley won the puck behind the Knoxville net and fed it out in front of the crease, where Nutkevitch crept in through the slot and punched the puck past Stead for the only goal through the first two periods.
The Ice Bears will travel to Georgia on Friday for two games this weekend against Macon. Huntsville will head to Florida to take on Pensacola Friday night.
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 www.knoxvilleicebears.com or call (865) 525-7825.