The Kenai River Brown Bears dropped their season opener to the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets on Thursday at the North American Hockey League Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota.
“I thought it was a good pace, and a fun game to be a part of,” said Kenai River head coach Josh Petrich. “All teams are still kind of sloppy and learning structure, especially two teams with a new coach.”
Like Petrich, Janesville bench boss Gary Shuchuk is in his first season. The Jets had a game under their belts coming into this game and are 2-0.
Kenai River got the season started off right with 1:14 left in the first period when Luke Posner scored a power-play goal on assists from Sacha Guillemain and Eagle River’s Cameron McDonald.
Petrich said the Bears won a faceoff and Guillemain took the puck behind the net and chipped it to Posner, who drove to the faceoff dot and put a hard shot under the blocker of Janesville goalie Daniel Lebedeff.
But the Jets tied the game in the second period on a play started by a Kenai River turnover near the blue line. The game-winner came with 13:53 left in the third period, when a breakdown on the power play left Jakov Novak alone out front.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys and new guys,” Petrich said. “I know everyone wants to win instantly, and no one wants to win more than I do.
“We’re focused on building the right amount of work ethic in our culture right now, and that should correlate with great results.”
The Jets outshot the Bears 47-20, but Petrich said chances were about equal.
The coach said Lebedeff and Kenai River goalie Artur Pavliukov both had some solid saves.
The Bears continue play at the Showcase on Thursday with a 4:15 p.m. ADT game against the Odessa (Texas) Jackalopes.
Jets 2, Brown Bears 1
Janesville 0 1 1 —2
Kenai River 1 0 0 —1
First period — 1. Kenai River, Posner (Guillemain, C. McDonald), pp, 18:46. Penalties — Janesville 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Janesville, Palmqvisk (Novak), 6:21. Penalties — Janesville 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 3. Janesville, Novak (Semandel, Ekberg), pp, 6:07. Penalties — Janesville 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Janesville 47, Kenai River 20.
Goalies — Janesville, Lebedeff (20 shots, 19 saves); Kenai River, Pavliukov (47 shots, 45 saves).
Power plays — Janesville 1 for 3; Kenai River 1 for 4.