The Kenai River Brown Bears opened their regular season much the same way they ended it, with a loss.
Kenai River fell 4-0 to the Minot (North Dakota) Minotauros in an out-of-division matchup Wednesday at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota, part of the North American Hockey League Showcase. Minot competes out of the Central Division in the NAHL.
Chase Springman opened the scoring quickly for the Minotauros, slipping the puck by Brown Bears goalie Connor Poczos just 23 seconds in on a rush to the net.
“I’m not going to make excuses, we had a whole game to come back,” said Kenai River coach Jeff Worlton. “We caught some penalties on our end, took some bad penalties, but we’re a very young team and it was a life lesson.”
Poczos finished the game with 43 saves on 47 shots. Minot goalie Lucas Murray had the 25-save shutout.
Worlton said he was forced to watch the game from a corner of the rink as he finished off a suspension from the NAHL.
After Springman’s opening goal, the Bears (0-1-0) held Minot until 3:38 left in the opening period, when Reid Stefanson scored to put the Minotauros up 2-0.
However, the Brown Bears managed to hold that lead through a troublesome second period, when Minot outshot Kenai River 22-7 thanks to abundant time spent on the penalty kill. The Bears suffered through four penalty calls that made for eight minutes of kill time.
The Minotauros did not score again until early in the third frame, when Jake Dittel hit the net to push the lead to 3-0. Alex Adams wrapped up the victory for Minot with 5:36 remaining with a scoring strike.
“We had some very good offensive time, some good zone play on our end, and we generated some offense,” Worlton said. “We hit the post a couple times, too, and our (defensive) zone was good.”
Worlton also refused to put any blame on Poczos, who got his first start between the pipes in his NAHL career.
“We kept everything to the outside, their goals came off rushes,” he said.
The Bears will continue play today at the NAHL Showcase in Minnesota with a 4 p.m. date with Brookings (South Dakota) Blizzard, another team from the Central Division.
Minotauros 4, Brown Bears 0
Minot 2 0 2 —4
Kenai River 0 0 0 —0
1st Period — 1. Minot, Springman (Jeanson, Murphy), :23; 2. Minot, Stefanson (Chorney, Adams), 16:22. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00, Minot 1 for 2:00.
2nd Period — no scoring. Penalties — Kenai River 4 for 8:00, Minot 1 for 2:00.
3rd Period — 3. Minot, Dittel (Sawchuk, Frentz), pp, 5:43; 4. Minot, Adams (Frentz, McClellan), 14:24. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00, Minot 3 for 6:00.
Shots — Minot 11-22-14—47; Kenai River 7-7-11—25.
Power plays — Minot 1 for 6; Kenai River 0 for 4.
Goalies — Minot, Murray (25 shots, 25 saves); Kenai River, Poczos (47 shots, 43 saves).