Bears split weekend series with Rebels

Bears split weekend series with Rebels

The Kenai River Brown Bears and the Aston (Pennsylvania) Rebels split Friday and Saturday games at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

The Bears won 4-1 Friday to stretch their home winning streak to four games before losing 3-2 on Saturday.

Kenai River is now 9-26-2-0 and sit 12 points out of a playoff spot in the Midwest Division, while Aston is 30-6-1-0 and is third in the league in points.

“They’re a good team — they have one of the best records on paper,” Kenai River coach Jeff Worlton said. “We battled with them and beat them one night.

“There were not a lot of negatives this weekend.”

Friday, the Bears kept their solid play at home going. While the first three in the streak came against one of the league’s top franchises in Fairbanks, the fourth came against one of the league’s top teams and the league’s top goalie.

The win, which came in front of 591, was against Rebels goaltender Mareks Mitens, who leads the league in goals against at 1.28 and save percentage at .945.

Before Friday, the Bears had not played at home since Nov. 27.

“This whole week felt like a homecoming,” said Kenai River defenseman Preston Weeks, who is from Soldotna. “Everybody was happy to be back and the crowd gave us good energy.”

Aston had just defeated the Bears 3-0 on Jan. 13 and 14. The losses caused Worlton to change his game plan. Instead of trying to generate offense off the forecheck, he went to a 1-3-1 in the neutral zone and waited for the Rebels to make mistakes.

“We played a very conservative style,” Worlton said. “We wanted to slow down their rush and rely on our D zone work and goaltending to keep us in the game.”

Aston coach Joe Coombs said the first game of the Alaska trip is tough, and that too many of his players took the night off. But that’s not the reason the coach said his squad lost.

“I think Jeff did an absolutely outstanding job of preparing his players,” Coombs said. “He should be commended on that.”

As good as the strategy looks in hindsight, Dom Garcia of the Rebels put the plan in danger when he got to a loose puck first with 1 minute, 20 seconds, left in the first period and scored.

Worlton said if his squad had gone down 2-0, he would have had to change strategy. But he gave his team credit for sticking with the plan despite going down 1-0.

“Coach said stick to the system and that’s why we won,” Weeks said. “We didn’t win because of individual talent.”

With 6:18 left in the second period, the Bears got one of those neutral zone turnovers they’d been waiting for it turned into a three-on-two. Luke Radetic scored on assists from Jonathan Marzec and Weeks. Radetic leads the team with 13 goals, but he broke a stretch of six games without a point.

“It was a nice shot,” Worlton said. “That goalie is the real deal. He’s very hard to beat.”

With 15:45 left in the third period, Marzec jumped back onside and got the puck to Radetic, who was blocked by Mitens. But Evan Butcher scored on the rebound.

“We’ve been working with him on going to the gritty areas,” Worlton said of Butcher. “It was good to see him get rewarded.”

Then with 8:44 to play, another turnover resulted in Marzec roofing a nice backhand on assists from Weeks and Butcher.

“They played all night waiting for us to make a mistake, and when we did, they put it in the back of the net,” Coombs said.

Ethan Stewart, assisted by Ryan Mezera and Tyler Rock, closed the game with an empty-netter with 47 seconds left.

Worlton said all the defensemen and goalie Robbie Goor, who made 26 saves, deserve credit for blocking shots and active sticks. Mitens saved 16 for Aston.

“That’s what Bob’s been doing for us, making the saves he has to make,” Worlton said.

Saturday, Aston again took an early lead but Kenai River again stormed back.

Dustin Manz scored for the Rebels with 7:09 left in the first, but Butcher, unassisted, answered with 5:23 left in the first.

Jake Friedman, assisted by Jordan Holmes, had the lone goal of the second period to stake the Bears to a 2-1 lead.

But Brennan Kapcheck and Ryan Patrick scored in the third to boost Aston and send 664 send home disappointed.

“They are just older and maturer and they made some plays,” Worlton said. “I think the moment caught up to our young guys.

“It was a huge turnout, a great turnout by our fans, and it was a playoff-caliber game back and forth.”

Goor made 29 saves for the Bears. For Aston, Jack Leavy had 11 saves and Mitens made one.

The Bears continue play at home Friday and Saturday when they face the Northeast (Massachusetts) Generals, with the puck dropping at 7:30 p.m. each night. Worlton said it is important the Bears keep up their standard of play now that they’ve shown they can play with the league’s top teams.

Friday

Brown Bears 4, Rebels 1

Aston 1 0 0 — 1

Kenai River 0 1 3 — 4

First period — 1. Aston, Garcia (Blackmun), 18:40. Penalties — Aston 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Second period — 2. Kenai River, Radetic (Marzec, Weeks), 13:42. Penalties — Aston 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

Third period — 3. Kenai River, Butcher (Radetic, Marzec), 4:15; 4. Kenai River, Marzec (Weeks, Butcher), 11:16; 5. Kenai River, Stewart (Mezera, Rock), en, 19:13. Penalties — none.

Shots on goal — Aston 8-12-7—27; Kenai River 5-7-8—20.

Goalies — Aston, Mitens (19 shots, 16 saves); Kenai River, Goor (27 shots, 26 saves).

Power plays — Aston 0 for 2; Kenai River 0 for 2.

Bears split weekend series with Rebels
Aston forward Evgeny Takovlev keeps the puck away from Kenai River defenseman Shayne Monahan on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Aston forward Evgeny Takovlev keeps the puck away from Kenai River defenseman Shayne Monahan on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate a victory over the Aston (Pennsylvania) Rebels on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate a victory over the Aston (Pennsylvania) Rebels on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River goaltender Robbie Goor, with help from defenseman Sam Sterne, keeps Aston forward Jensen Zerban from scoring Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River goaltender Robbie Goor, with help from defenseman Sam Sterne, keeps Aston forward Jensen Zerban from scoring Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Aston forward Evgeny Takovlev keeps the puck away from Kenai River defenseman Shayne Monahan on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Aston forward Evgeny Takovlev keeps the puck away from Kenai River defenseman Shayne Monahan on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

More in Sports

Homer’s Sela Weisser attacks Kenai Central’s Kate Wisnewski and Valerie Villegas in the Peninsula Conference championship game Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Area soccer teams ready for state

The Kenai Central boys and girls, Soldotna boys and girls, and Homer… Continue reading

Soldotna starting pitcher Atticus Gibson delivers to Kenai Central on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at the Kenai Little League Fields in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi, Kenai, Homer chase state berths at Southcentral tourney

Three berths to the Division II state baseball tournament will be up… Continue reading

Anchorage Wolverines defenseman Ben Edwards shields the puck from Kenai River Brown Bears forward Bryce Monrean on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Wolverines lose Robertson Cup final to New Jersey

The Anchorage Wolverines lost the Robertson Cup final to the New Jersey… Continue reading

Soldotna's Isaac Chavarria competes in the triple jump at the Region 3/Division I meet at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Saturday, May 21, 2022. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna girls win regions; SoHi boys, Kenai boys, girls finish 2nd

Stars boys left meet thinking they had won, but that changed with Sunday review of team scores

tease
Chugiak softball wins Bash on the Bay

The Chugiak softball team defeated Dimond 6-2 on Saturday to win the… Continue reading

tease
SoHi, Kenai, Homer baseball collect wins

The Soldotna baseball team defeated host Redington 12-8 on Saturday to move… Continue reading

The Kenai Central boys soccer teams mobs Joe Hamilton (center) after Hamilton scored the game-winning penalty kick in the Peninsula Conference championship game Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai soccer sweeps Peninsula Conference titles

The Kenai Central girls and boys soccer teams swept the Peninsula Conference… Continue reading

Seward's Tommy Cronin competes in the triple jump at the Region 3/Division II meet Friday, May 20, 2022, at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Area track athletes punch early tickets to state

A few area athletes wrapped up automatic berths to the state track… Continue reading

tease
Kenai baseball rolls past Grace Christian

The visiting Kenai Central baseball team defeated Grace Christian on Friday 18-4… Continue reading

Most Read