By Dave Link, Knoxville News Sentinel
Good thing the Knoxville Ice Bears don't have to wait long to start the Southern Professional Hockey League playoffs.
They won't have time to fret over a disappointing Saturday night.
Chris Leveille scored two goals as Fayetteville — the only team that didn't qualify for the SPHL playoffs — defeated the Ice Bears 4-3 in the regular-season finale before 4,027 fans at Civic Coliseum.
The Ice Bears finished third in the SPHL standings and play the sixth-seeded Mississippi RiverKings on Wednesday night at Civic Coliseum in the first game of a best-of-three series. Game 2 is Friday night at Southaven, Miss., with Game 3, if necessary, Sunday at 5 at Civic Coliseum.
"We've had a real good year, especially at home, and that wasn't what we envisioned playing out (Saturday), but I think it's important at times like this to take a step back and look at the big picture," Ice Bears coach Mike Craigen said. "We're in a real good spot. We've had a great year. We've got a great group of guys and we're excited for the playoffs to begin."
The Ice Bears, who are 19-6-3 at home, needed a victory Saturday and a loss by Columbus to finish second in the SPHL, but neither happened. Columbus beat visiting Augusta 4-1 Saturday.
Knoxville trailed 4-0 Saturday night and scored three goals in the last 9 minutes, 35 seconds.