Mar 10, 2013 12:16 AM by IceGators
Knoxville, Tennessee--All season long, the Louisiana IceGators have played their strongest hockey in the third period. They lived up to their reputation Saturday night in the Knoxville Civic Center. Louisiana scored three unanswered goals in the final frame to pick up a 5-2 victory over the Knoxville IceBears.
Louisiana's special teams contributed heavily to the win. The IceGators scored twice on the powerplay, while their penalty kill unit stopped three out of four Knoxville advantages.
"The boys responded to [Friday] night's loss with passion," said IceGators coach Kevin Kaminski. "They had a fire in their bellies. They were focused and took care of business. They found their identity and played a smart and physical game. We took pride in the little things."
Clark Byzcynski put the IceGators on the board first. The defenseman scored with 3:51 remaining in the first period off an assist from Cody Zubko. A Matt Miller cross-check penalty set up Knoxville's only powerplay goal of the night. Brendan Taylor scored on the man advantage with 33 seconds remaining in the frame to tie the game heading into the first intermission.
Kirk Byzcynski gave Louisiana a 2-1 lead midway through the second period with a powerplay goal of his own. Shawn McNeil assisted on the play. Knoxville responded with 2:33 left in the period when Peter Neal put a shot past goalie Breton Lindoff.
The third period belonged to the IceGators. McNeil scored two minutes into the period to put the IceGators up 3-2. Miller tacked on an unassisted goal 70 seconds later to give Louisiana a two-goal cushion. Matt Robertson added another insurance goal midway through the frame when he scored on a powerplay.
The IceGators continue their road trip next week with a three games in three cities. They begin the penultimate weekend of the season Friday night with a rematch against the IceBears in Knoxville before traveling Saturday to Augusta Saturday and to Pensacola on Sunday.
Kaminski and his team will savor this victory for a while before getting ready for next weekend.
"I'm proud of the way the boys bounced back," Kaminski said. "They took charge and stayed hungry for the whole game. Good teams respond to bad games like Friday night's with big statements like this. This game shows we have a good foundation."