(KNOXVILLE) - The Huntsville Havoc (7-9), league leaders in shots-on-goal, came out fighting, literally, and outshot, but could not outscore the 1st place Knoxville Ice Bears with returning captain Kevin Swider, Wednesday night at Knoxville Civic Coliseum, 6-1.
A fight between Huntsvlle's Travis Kauffeldt and Knoxville's Chris Affinati five seconds after the opening faceoff set the tempo for the hard-hitting game between bitter border rivals.
Huntsville's defense held the Ice Bears to just 18 shots in the first two periods, but Matt Carmichael was pulled after allowing five goals in the first two periods.
Huntsville tested rookie goalie Kirk Irving, outshooting Knoxville, 44-29, but the Havoc could manage only a 3rd period score by Bobby Siers at 8:21 of the final period.
Swider, 3-time SPHL scoring champ, returned after missing four games and picked up 4 points, scoring twice and assisting on two others. The Ice Bears had only won one game without Swider, who pulled a muscle in practice eight days ago.
Knoxville was mired in an 0-for-35 slump on the power play until Bobby Joe Pelkey scored his 2nd goal of the game and his 12th of the season, 1:38 into the 2nd period on a 5-on-3 advantage to give the Ice Bears a 2-0 lead.
Swider, then played a part in Knoxville's next three goals in the period.
After assisting on Corey Rutt's goal at 8:46, Swider weaved his way around the zone, then fed Kevin Harris, whose shot from the point eluded Carmichael for a 2nd power-play goal at 9:50.
At 12:54, Swider stole the puck from Huntsville captain James Patterson and scored to cap a four-goal blitz, giving the Ice Bears a 5-0 lead.
Knoxville was 2-for-6 on the power play against the SPHL's worst penalty-killing team (73%).
Stephen Siwiec stopped 10 of 11 shots in the final period for the Havoc.
The Havoc came close to scoring on a couple of occasions.
Patterson's slap shot from the blue line in the 2nd period slipped between Irving's pads, then caromed wide of the far post with the Ice Bears holding onto a 2-0 lead. Later, Irving foiled Trevor Karasiewicz on a 2-on-1. Irving lost sight of the puck with no idea it was trapped between his skates.
The Havoc return home to the VBC tonight to face the Ice Bears, then remain at home for Friday night's game against 9-4 Jacksonville.