Swider gives Ice Bears big lift before heading back to Miami
By NICK GATES
The line of Kevin Swider, K.J. Voorhees and Craig Desjarlais appears as good as any in the South East Hockey League.
It's too bad the Knoxville Ice Bears will be missing its most integral piece for the rest of the regular season.
Kevin Swider announced he is returning to the Miami Manatees of the World Hockey Association 2 after scoring two goals to propel Knoxville to a 5-2 victory over the Cape Fear FireAntz at Civic Coliseum on Saturday night.
"We don't need him," Knoxville captain Todd MacIsaac said with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
Swider, a 40-goal scorer for the Ice Bears last season, left Miami last week for Knoxville. He's headed back to Miami, but he promised he'll return to the Ice Bears for the playoffs.
"I'm coming back," said Swider, who also had three assists in his two-game cameo. "I'll go back to Miami and play there until the playoffs start here."
The SEHL and WHA2 do not recognize each other. Therefore, players can hopscotch between leagues.
The Manatees relocated to central Florida last week and there was a mass exodus. However, the players agreed to complete the season when Manatees ownership announced the team would finish its regular season on the road.
"We (Manatees) might lose one or two (players) through this whole fiasco," Swider said. "It (the decision) is more for the guys than anything. We have a tight group and a real good chance to win that league, too. I want to help both teams."
Miami goalie Sean Weaver and defenseman Liam McCarthy, who were expected to follow Swider to Knoxville, apparently have reconsidered as well.
The second-place Ice Bears (23-28) beat the FireAntz (21-28) for the fourth consecutive time and all but secured a postseason berth. If they win one of their remaining four games or if Winston-Salem loses one of its last seven, Knoxville is in.
That seems a formality. However, home-ice advantage in the first round is another matter. The Ice Bears are four points up on the FireAntz, who have played two fewer games.
"We needed to win this game," Knoxville coach Jim Bermingham said. "If we didn't, it would have erased what we accomplished last week."
Voorhees, who had his 45th and 46th goals - and two assists, is going to miss Swider most.
"It's fun playing with a guy of that caliber," he said. "He's a smart player. There's a reason he was the leading scorer on our team last year."
Swider's first goal of the season came 46 seconds into the game.
Voorhees stole the puck from Cape Fear defenseman Tim Rink and his pass ran up the shaft of Cape Fear defenseman Scott Young's stick. That was no problem for Swider. He simply batted the puck out of midair past goalie Kevin Fines.
"Such hand-and-eye coordination," Bermingham said. "You can't teach that."
The Ice Bears have made a habit of frittering big leads the second half of the season, but not this time. Goalie Blaine Russell made 33 saves and didn't allow a goal after David Bagley beat him in the first period - until Aaron Shrieves scored with 1:17 to go.
"We held them to 35 shots," Russell said. "It's nice to hold them under 45 for a change."
Web posted on March 7, 2004