The Kenai River Brown Bears will take on the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues in a three-game North American Hockey League series at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex this weekend.
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. Sunday.
The Bears are in sole possession of third place in a very tight Midwest Division. The Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets and Fairbanks Ice Dogs are tied for first place with 26 points, while the Bears have 25 points with their 12-7-1-0 record.
The Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel have 24, the Minnesota Wilderness have 22 and the Anchorage Wolverines have 20. The Jr. Blues are in last place with a 7-10-0-0 record good for 14 points.
Kenai River swept a three-game series in Springfield from Oct. 7 to 9.
The Jr. Blues have struggled to score this season, with only three teams in the league having less than Springfield’s 34 goals. At the same time, the Jr. Blues are solid on defense, with 44 goals against being the second lowest mark in the division.
The Bears are tied for fourth in the eight-team division with 57 goals scored, and are fourth in the division with 53 goals allowed.
The Bears are playing games nine through 11 of a 15-game homestand, the longest of the season. Kenai River is 3-4-1 so far on the homestand and is coming off a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wilderness on Saturday.
The Blues are beginning a five-game swing through Alaska. Springfield did get a victory over the division-leading Jets on Saturday.
Springfield goalie Aksel Reid is 16th in the league in goals-against average and 15th in save percentage, but he only has a 3-6-0-1 record to show for that.
Kenai River’s Bryant Marks is tied for fourth with a .937 save percentage and is ninth in goals against at 1.96. That has translated to a 4-2-0-0 record for the Wasilla player, who is committed to Division I University of Alaska Anchorage.
Bryce Monrean, an Anchorage skater committed to Division I University of Alaska Fairbanks, is 15th in the league with 18 points. Springfield’s top scorer is Nikita Nikora with 14 points. Nikora is committed to Division I Dartmouth.
Friday, all active duty and military veterans get in free to the game. Sunday, those in kindergarten through 12th grade get in free by showing a school ID, or wearing their school apparel to the game.