Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Kenai River Brown Bears Austin Chavez slams Coulee Region Chill's Richard Zehnal into the glass, causing a beer to spill, during their game on Friday Jan. 23, 2014 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Kenai River Brown Bears Austin Chavez slams Coulee Region Chill's Richard Zehnal into the glass, causing a beer to spill, during their game on Friday Jan. 23, 2014 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Bears defeat Chill on Friday to snap 14-game skid

The Coulee Region (Wisconsin) Chill have to start being more wary of rookie defensemen looking for their first career North American Hockey League goal in the waning seconds of games at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Rookie defenseman Jack Nickels’ goal with 9.9 seconds remaining Friday broke a tie and resulted in a 3-2 win.

The win snapped a 14-game losing streak for the Bears, a stretch that had them claiming their last win on Nov. 28.

The good vibes didn’t last long, however, as the Bears lost a 1-0 game Saturday to the Chill.

“It was as entertaining as last night’s game, I even thought we played a better game for 60 minutes,” said Bears coach Geoff Beauparlant. “It was a fun game, just disappointing that we didn’t get the win.”

In a defensive masterpiece, Coulee Region goaltender Adam Carlson stopped all 39 shots the Bears sent his way.

“You can see why he’s going to be a (Division I) goalie,” Beauparlant said. “I thought we did a great job of creating chances.”

Kenai River goalie Evan Hauser’s game wasn’t too shabby either, as he saved 32 of 33 shots on goal.

Kenai River forward Maurin Bouvet had the most chances against Carlson with eight.

Kenai River is 12-26-2 and did not get any help from the Minnesota Magicians in the race for the Midwest Division’s fourth and final playoff spot. The Bears are four points behind the Magicians in the race for the final playoff spot. The Chill are in third in the division at 20-12-6.

The lone goal of the game came early in the second period, when Blake Kelley caught the puck on a scramble in front of the net, spun around and shoveled it past Hauser to give the Chill a 1-0 lead.

“It was nothing you’d write home about,” Beauparlant said. “We just lost coverage on him.”

The Brown Bears pulled Hauser from the goal with about 1:20 left in the game, giving the Bears the extra attacker, but time ultimately ran out.

Friday presented a perfect way to begin the weekend.

Nickels snuck in from the blue line and cracked a behind-the-net pass from Bouvet past Chill goalie Adam Carlson with 9.9 seconds remaining to give the Brown Bears a 3-2 victory.

“I just tried to put it on net,” Nickels said after getting his first goal in his 30th NAHL game. “I had no idea where it was going. I was just hoping it would go in.”

Go in it did — into the lower left portion of the net.

And at that, Brown Bears captain Tyler Andrews could only smile.

Last season, Andrews got the first goal of his NAHL career against Coulee Region, this time with two seconds left in a 3-2 win at the sports complex.

“Nothing beats scoring your first goal with less than 10 seconds left to beat the other team,” Andrews said.

The biggest difference between the goals was Andrews’ strike gave the Bears a seventh-straight win last season.

Nickels’ tally saved a team on a long losing streak from heading to overtime after giving up a 2-0 lead in the third period.

“We knew that if we were going to win, we were going to have to start figuring out how to play all 60 minutes, and that’s exactly what we did tonight,” Brown Bears head coach Geoff Beauparlant said.

The Chill have now lost six straight, and head coach AJ Degenhardt said that losing streak is due to not playing hard for 60 minutes.

Coulee Region had a nine-game winning streak that was snapped on Jan. 2, and Degenhardt said the team has forgotten what made it successful.

“It’s been six games in a row now, and our compete level is not where it needs to be,” he said.

Degenhardt was not pleased with the second period, in which the Bears took a 2-0 lead.

The first goal came when Andrews knifed to the net and Bouvet found him with a perfect pass with 18:18 on the clock.

Then with 14:12 left in the period, Andrews slid a pass across the ice to Austin Chavez, who roofed one on Carlson’s glove side.

The Bears won the shot count 16-7 in the second, but Coulee came storming back in the third to outshoot the Bears 17-9 and 37-34 for the game.

With 13:08 to play, Bears defenseman Ben Campbell tried to clear the puck up the side, but it took a bizarre bounce to Dominik Florian in the middle of the ice for a goal.

Although the bounce was strange, the goal was no accident because, unofficially, the Chill were outshooting the Bears 8-0 in the period at that point.

“They came out really hard,” Andrews said. “We fell back and were trying to play D, but there was still 20 minutes to go.

“That’s too much time to stop playing offense.”

Then with 2:05 to play, Richard Zehnal finished off an intense rush for a tie game.

“We did see some good signs in the third period, but this league is too good to take a period off,” Degenhardt said.

The coach also said he thought his team let up a bit after tallying the equalizer.

Beauparlant said his squad kept up intensity and execution no matter the situation or score.

The coach said goalie Evan Hauser played a big role in making the third goal of the night by a Bears’ defenseman the deciding tally.

In the first period, Hauser stopped a penalty shot by Garrett Riebling.

In the second period, only a minute after the Bears went up 1-0, Hauser stoned a wide-open chance in front of the net. With 5:52 left in the second, he want post to post to deny a bid by Jack Sorensen.

“We need a goaltender to make those saves and those are the saves we haven’t been getting lately,” Beauparlant said. “We need the big save when we’ve just gone up 1-0, or even to keep the game 0-0.”

The Bears face the Chill on Sunday at 3 p.m. Sunday’s game is half price, at $7 for adults and $5 for kids.

Friday

Brown Bears 3, Chill 2

Coulee Region 0 0 2 —2

Kenai River 0 2 1 —3

First period — none. Penalties — Coulee Region 1 for 2:00.

Second period — 1. Kenai River, Andrews (Bouvet, Berglund), 1:42; 2. Kenai River, Chavez (Andrews, Klishko), 5:48. Penalties — Coulee Region 1 for 2:00.

Third period — 3. Coulee Region, Florian (DiPietro, Lovick), 6:52; 4.Coulee Region, Matsushima (Zehnal, Lovick), 17:55; 5. Kenai River, Nickels (Bouvet, Gessert), 19:50. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Shots on goal — Coulee Region 13-7-17—37; Kenai River 9-16-9—34.

Goalies — Coulee Region, Carlson (34 shots, 31 saves); Kenai River, Hauser (37 shots, 35 saves).

Power plays — Coulee Region 0 for 1; Kenai River 0 for 2.

Saturday

Chill 1, Brown Bears 0

Coulee Region 0 1 0 —1

Kenai River 0 0 0 —0

First period — none. Penalties — 3 for 6:00; Coulee Region 1 for 2:00.

Second period — 1. Coulee Region, Kelley (Florian, Riebling), 2:43. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Third period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Shots — Kenai River 11-11-17—39; Coulee Region 8-14-11—33.

Goalies — Kenai River, Hauser (33 shots, 32 saves); Coulee Region, Carlson (39 shots, 39 saves).

Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 1; Coulee Region 0 for 5.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Browns Bears'  Austin Chavez takes a breath during a game against the Coulee Region Chill on Saturday Jan. 23, 2015 at the Soldotna Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Browns Bears’ Austin Chavez takes a breath during a game against the Coulee Region Chill on Saturday Jan. 23, 2015 at the Soldotna Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Brown Bears' Tyler Bird collides with Coulee Region Chill Joe Rutkowski collides with Brown Bears' Matt Rudin during their game Saturday Jan. 24, 2014 at the Soldotna Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Brown Bears’ Tyler Bird collides with Coulee Region Chill Joe Rutkowski collides with Brown Bears’ Matt Rudin during their game Saturday Jan. 24, 2014 at the Soldotna Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

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