KNOXVILLE, TN – The Marksmen headed west to Knoxville on Friday, for the fifth edition of the Smoky Mountain Showdown, in a battle for sole-possession of fifth-place in the SPHL standings.
It didn’t take long for this game to show that it was going to be similar to every game these two have played thus far, as scoring started quick as Knoxville scored on only their fourth shot on goal. Bryce Nielsen sent his ninth goal of the season in past Marksmen netminder Dillon Kelley, making it 1-0 Ice Bears early first.
The Marksmen didn’t start the strongest, making some sloppy-errors, and allowing plenty of opportunities for the Ice Bears. Fayetteville didn’t let that stand for long; heading to the late first, a flurry of shots and a Knoxville penalty allowed Fayetteville to strike. Only eight seconds after a boarding call on Danny Cesarz, last week’s SPHL Player of the Week blasted one in. Brian Bowen’s fifth goal in the last three games tied the game at one. Once again, special teams was at the forefront of the match-up, and the Marksmen took advantage, strengthening their power play percentage to 22.3%, good enough for second in the league. After the horn sounded, it was 1-1.
The second period started as most do for the Marksmen, little offense and high defense. A pair of penalties cut the period in half, as the red light failed to shine in the beginning portion of the second. In the waning minutes of the period, the Marksmen finally found the net again, as defensemen Paul Fregeau scored his first goal with Fayetteville and in the SPHL. The goal gave the Marksmen a 2-1 lead with 3:38 left in the period.
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