The host Kenai River Brown Bears snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating the Minnesota Magicians on Friday and Saturday at the Breezy Point Hockey Center.
Lucas Wahlin had three goals, including the game-winner in overtime, as the Bears defeated the Magicians 4-3 on Friday at their temporary home rink. Saturday, Kenai River scored three unanswered goals in the third period in a 4-2 victory.
The Magicians are tied for first place in the Midwest Division with a 19-9-2-0 record for 40 points, while Kenai River is in fourth at 15-17-1-1 for 32 points. The Bears are ahead of the Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel for the division’s final playoff spot. The Steel have 20 points, but have played four fewer games than the Bears.
“It was huge for us,” Kenai River head coach Kevin Murdock said of Friday’s win. “It was a little weight off our shoulders.”
Wahlin’s big night started with a goal in the first period, but Minnesota had it tied at 1 headed to the second period.
Murdock said he put Wahlin with Cole Dubicki and Daymin Dodge for the first time this weekend.
“Wahlin just works really hard,” Murdock said. “That’s his biggest thing. His whole line is able to outwork guys.”
Murdock said just as important for the trio was making good on scoring chances, because the coach said the Bears have not been making the most of scoring opportunities lately.
The Magicians scored the lone goal of the second period, but Cam Blanton, assisted by Wahlin, had it tied at 3 with 18:26 left in regulation. Wahlin put the Bears up 4-3 with 8:30 to play, but Minnesota tied the game with a power-play goal with just 30 seconds left.
Murdock said the Magicians had an extra attacker on the ice for the goal. He said Minnesota’s Simon Falk, who had two goals in the game, has a really nice shot and was able to get the puck in a dangerous area.
Wahlin scored 2:44 into the overtime on an assist by Dodge for the victory.
“I give our guys a lot of credit,” Murdock said. “A lot of times when you score the tying goal late in regulation, you almost give yourself enough momentum to get the victory.
“I give our guys credit for battling back and finding a way to win in overtime.”
Luke Pavicich made 22 saves to get the win for the Bears, while Darius Bell stopped 17 for the Magicians.
Saturday, Murdock said the Bears continued to execute much better on scoring chances.
Kenai River’s Laudon Poellinger put the first goal on the board in the second period, but Minnesota had tied the game heading to the third period.
With 11:42 to play, Anchorage’s Max Helgeson put the Bears up 2-1. Brandon McNamara then came up with a pivotal short-handed goal with 9:16 to play.
“That was a really big goal,” Murdock said. “He’s been really good on the penalty kill all year.”
Wahlin then had his fourth goal of the weekend for a 4-1 lead with 7:38 to play.
Pavicich had 26 saves for the Bears, while Marino Ramirez stopped 14 for the Magicians.
The Bears play the Magicians in Breezy Point at 2 p.m. AKDT Sunday.
Brown Bears 4, Magicians 3, OT
Minnesota 1 1 1 0 —3
Kenai River 1 0 2 1 —4
First period — 1. Kenai River, Wahlin (Dodge), 15:18; 2. Minnesota, Falk (McCabe, Cronin), 17:10. Penalties — none.
Second period — 3. Minnesota, Laylin (un.), 9:58. Penalties — Minnesota 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 4. Kenai River, Blanton (Dubicki), 1:34; 5. Kenai River, Wahlin (Szubert), 11:30; 6. Minnesota, S. Falk (K. Falk), pp, 19:30. Penalties — Minnesota 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Overtime — 7. Kenai River, Wahlin (Dodge), 2:44. Penalties — none.
Shots on goal — Minnesota 8-8-7-2—25; Kenai River 6-5-7-3—21.
Goalies — Minnesota, Bell (21 shots, 17 saves); Kenai River, Pavicich (25 shots, 22 saves).
Brown Bears 4, Magicians 2
Minnesota 0 1 1 —2
Kenai River 0 1 3 —4
First period — none. Penalties — Minnesota 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 1. Kenai River, Poellinger (Blanton, Morgan0, 5:21; 2. Minnesota, Longhi (Laylin, Oberle), 17:06. Penalties — Minnesota 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 3. Kenai River, Helgeson (Poellinger, Morgan), 8:18; 4. Kenai River, McNamara (McCormack, Reid), sh, 10:44; 5. Kenai River, Wahlin (Hadfield, Dodge), 12:22; 6. Minnesota, McCabe (Stein, Laylin), 15:40. Penalties — Minnesota 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 5-7-6—18; Minnesota 9-9-10—28.
Goalies — Minnesota, Ramirez (18 shots, 14 saves); Kenai River, Pavicich (28 shots, 26 saves).