Brown Bears drop 2 games to Windigo to end winless trip to Lower 48

The visiting Kenai River Brown Bears dropped a pair of games to the Wisconsin Windigo on Friday and Saturday in North American Hockey League play.

The Bears lost 2-1 on Friday and 7-4 on Saturday.

The losses complete a seven-game trip out of state in which Kenai River lost all seven games.

The road trip was costly in the Midwest Division standings. Dec. 2, Kenai River completed a home-and-home sweep of the Anchorage Wolverines and was in fifth place, just nine points out of first place.

The Bears now sit at 12-21-2-0, good for 26 points. The Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets and Minnesota Wilderness are tied for the lead in the division with 45 points, while the Wolverines have the fourth and final spot in the playoffs with 36 points.

Kenai River now has a bye week before returning to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex Jan. 19 and 20 for 7:30 p.m. games against the Windigo.

“I think it’ll be really good to get back in our home environment and see the community,” Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said.

Shaw has said he focuses on improving each day and not the standings. He said Kenai River played well in Wisconsin.

“I actually liked our game a lot,” Shaw said. “Last night and tonight were both penalty-filled games. It’s pretty unfortunate it had to be that way for both sides.”

Friday, Kenai River finished 1 for 8 on the power play, while Wisconsin was 1 for 9.

After a scoreless first period, Wisconsin’s Maxwell Martin scored the second period’s lone goal on the power play.

With 15:12 left in the game, Ethan DeKay put the Windigo up 2-0.

With 11:42 left, Dylan Contreras, assisted by Marko Giourof and Luke Hause, cut it to 2-1 with a power-play strike.

Max Beckford made 31 saves for Wisconsin, while Marks Slavinskis-Repe stopped 30 for the Bears.

Saturday, Kenai River was 0 for 6 on the power play, while the Windigo were 3 for 9.

Martin, the top goal scorer and point scorer in the league, had a big night, notching four goals.

Slavinskis-Repe gave up four goals on the first 12 shots and was replaced by Conor Sullivan, who went on to make 25 saves on 28 shots. Linards Lipskis had 21 saves for Wisconsin.

“We lacked goaltending tonight,” Shaw said. “The guys up front responded well.

“They had a heartbeat, they responded and they worked and worked. We can build on that.”

DeKay, Jacob Jastrzebski and Martin all scored in just over 10 minutes for a 3-0 lead.

With 9:32 left in the first period, Owen Hanson scored on Giourof and Carter McCormick assists. But Martin then scored twice for a 4-1 lead.

After Landon MacDonald, assisted by Tiziano Pauchard, cut it to 4-2, Martin scored again before the end of the period for a 5-2 lead.

Nick Stevens, assisted by Blake Norris, had the lone goal for the second period to cut the gap to 5-3.

Martin scored again with 18:21 left in the game, but with 16:55 left, Kenai River again cut the lead to two goals when Stevens scored with help from Gavin Duckworth and Kotaro Tsutsumi.

Erick Comstock then finished off the scoring for the Windigo.

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