The Kenai River Brown Bears managed a split against the Minot (North Dakota) Minotauros at imposing Maysa Arena on Friday and Saturday in North American Hockey League play.
The Bears had a three-game winning streak snapped with a 4-2 loss on Friday in front of 1,145, but came back for a 4-3 win Saturday in front of 1,458.
Kenai River of the Midwest Division is 4-4-0-0, while Minot of the Central Division is 3-2-1-0. The Bears stay in North Dakota to face the Bismarck Bobcats on Friday and Saturday at 4:15 p.m. ADT.
Saturday, the Bears rode their 3-of-4 performance on the power play to a 3-0 lead, but Minot came all the way back to tie it. Luke Radetic, on assists from Markuss Komuls and Eagle River’s Cameron McDonald, had the game-winner with 18 seconds left.
“They’re a tough team to play,” Kenai River coach Josh Petrich said. “They play hard and they’re big, fast and physical.
“To pull that one out after going up 3-0 and having them tie it up is pretty special. I’m proud of the group. It took all 20 guys tonight to keep us at .500.”
Radetic’s game-winner came as he was falling down. He turned around and whipped one through the five-hole of Minot tender Samu Lonkila.
Kenai River had gone up 3-0 on power-play goals from Gil Garcia, Sacha Guillemain and Michael Spethmann. But Minot scored twice in the second and once in the third to tie the game. Petrich called the third goal “a little controversial” and wouldn’t say more than that.
“We had to recompose,” he said. “I’m really proud of the growth the team is making.”
Gavin Enright made 46 saves to get his first NAHL win. Lonkila had 25 for the Minotauros. Petrich also said the defensemen did a great job pushing rushes to the outside. The coach said there is one lesson to be learned from the game.
“We let them back in the game,” he said. “I thought we had all the momentum and we laid back a little bit and let them pressure us in waves.
“We’re a young team that has to learn to say on top and put the pedal to the metal.”
The other bad thing to come out of the game is an injury to defenseman Connor Scahill. Petrich said Scahill took a hard hit and is still being evaluated.
Friday also was an entertaining affair.
“It was a back and forth game, a fun game to be a part of,” Petrich said. “It was two teams that are fast and compete, and we came up on the short end of the stick.”
Although the official scoresheet had Minot scoring just 13 seconds into the game, Petrich said the goal came four or five minutes into the first period. On Kenai River’s second shift of the game, the Bears had a goal called back due to a high stick.
“We got a goal called back, but we’ve got to be able to come back in the next few shifts,” Petrich said. “They were able to get a flurry in front.”
Austin Dollimer had the first-period goal, and Miroslav Mucha made it 2-0 for the Minotauros headed into the third period.
Kenai River cut the gap to 2-1 with 17 minutes, 1 second, left in the game when Luke Posner scored a power-play goal on assists from Radetic and Guillemain. The Bears finished 1 for 6 on the man advantage.
With 8:24 to play, Minot went back up 3-1 on a goal by Grant Loven, but just over a minute later the Bears were back in business when Komuls scored on assists from Garcia and Posner.
“Between the second and third periods, I told them there wouldn’t be any pretty goals and that they’d have to go to the dirty areas,” Petrich said. “They took four or five whacks at it and it popped out to the D and he put it over the goalie’s back.”
The Bears couldn’t find the equalizer, then gave up an empty-netter to Alex Adams with 40 seconds left.
Artur Pavliukov made 30 saves for the Bears, while Lonkila had 21 for Minot.
“It was a good team effort, but in this league it’s tough to win on the road if you don’t compete for 60 minutes,” Petrich said. “We competed for 45 to 50 minutes.”
Minotauros 4, Brown Bears 2
Kenai River 0 0 2 — 2
Minot 1 1 2 — 4
First period — 1. Minot, Dollimer (Grounds, Dahl), 0:13. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Minot, Mucha (Talbot, Cochrane), 6:45. Penalties — Minot 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 3. Kenai River, Posner (Radetic, Guillemain), pp, 2:59; 4. Minot, Loven (McGinnis, Enns), 11:36; 5. Kenai River, Komuls (Garcia, Posner), 12:28; 6. Minot, Adams (Loven, Sawchuk), en, 19:20. Penalties — Kenai River 4 for 8:00; Minot 6 for 14:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 7-7-9—23; Minot 11-11-12—34.
Goalies — Kenai River, Pavliukov (33 shots, 30 saves); Minot, Lonkila (23 shots, 21 saves).
Brown Bears 4, Minotauros 3
Kenai River 1 2 1 — 4
Minot 0 2 1 — 3
First period — 1. Kenai River, Garcia (Radetic, Guillemain), pp, 0:48. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Minot 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 2. Kenai River, Guillemain (C. McDonald, Radetick), pp, 1:09; 3. Kenai River, Spethmann (Ezitis, Klekotka), pp, 5:59; 4. Minot, Mucha (Lantz, Mark), 16:18; 5. Minot, Erne (Sawchuk, Loven), pp, 19:21. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Minot 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 6. Minot, Green (Koss, Lund), 11:19; 7. Kenai River, Radetic (Komuls, C. McDonald), 19:42. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Minot 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 10-13-6—29; Minot 11-22-16—49.
Goalies — Kenai River, Enright (49 shots, 46 saves); Minot, Lonkila (29 shots, 25 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 3 for 4, Minot 1 for 4.