The Kenai River Brown Bears lost games Friday and Saturday to finish the North American Hockey League Showcase in Minnesota at 0-4 and fall to 1-7-0 on the year.
“Like the coaches were all saying here, it’s still early,” Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant said. “We need to keep building.
“At the same time, we need to find some wins and some points next weekend.”
The Bears play Friday and Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ADT at the Minnesota Wilderness (2-3-1).
The Bears lost 8-3 Friday to the Wichita Falls (Texas) Wildcats and 8-4 Saturday to the Austin (Minnesota) Bruins (3-3-0). The Bears had the lead at one point in both games, meaning they have now been in front in five of their seven losses.
“(Friday) we didn’t play our style of hockey,” Beauparlant said. “Today was a little easier to accept because we played the Brown Bear style of hockey for a good portion of the game.
“We just didn’t get the job done.”
Saturday, Ezekial Estrada, assisted by Joey Sardina and Tommy Bowe, and Cam Cook, assisted by Sam Carlson, had the Bears ahead 2-0 after the first period.
Austin cut it to 2-1 in the second, but Carlson, assisted by Sardina, put the Bears out front 3-1. Again, Austin cut it to a goal, but Carlson, assisted by Cook and Sardina, upped the lead to 4-2.
Austin cut the lead to 4-3 by the end of the third, then scored five in the third period — the last two being empty-netters.
Beauparlant said it was a good sign his team came back to score twice after being scored upon. He said the Bruins’ third goal, coming on a bad line change, shifted the game.
“Every time we make a major mistake it’s ending up in the back of our net,” Beauparlant said. “When we cause the other team to make mistakes, we’re not capitalizing on those chances.
“We had four Grade A chances to make it 5-2 and we couldn’t do it.”
The coach said the line of Sardina, Carlson and Cook had a great game.
Austin Smith had 19 saves for the Bruins, while Brian Baker made 27 for the Bears.
Friday, Kenai River went from leading to trailing by a goal in a 94-second span early in the first period.
The Bears got a quick strike only 36 seconds into the game when Cook scored off assists from Jack Nickels and Sardina.
Adam Goodsir tied it up for Wichita Falls just over five minutes later, then notched the go-ahead goal less than two minutes after that on a Wichita Falls power play. Nikita Litviak scored midway through the period to give the Wildcats a 3-1 lead.
Barely five minutes into the second period of play, the Wildcats had stretched the lead to 6-1, getting goals from Andre Pison (on a power play), Garrett VanWyhe and Max Reisinger. Jeffrey Fasegha pulled a goal back for Kenai River on a power play with 49 seconds left in the period, but Wichita Falls snuck in a short-handed goal with a second remaining to push the lead to 7-2 going into the second intermission.
Charles Spetz scored for Kenai River in the third period, which saw only 11 shots on goal between the two sides.
Nicholas Nast started the game in goal for the Bears but was pulled after 25 minutes after giving up six goals on 24 shots. Baker went the remaining distance, stopping nine of 11 shots.
The Bears struggled with a man advantage all game long, converting only one out of 12 power play opportunities. Wichita Falls, meanwhile, scored twice on six power plays.
Wildcats 8, Brown Bears 3
Kenai River 1 1 1 —3
Wichita Falls 3 4 1 —8
1st period — 1. Kenai River, Cook (Nickels, Sardina), :36; 2. Wichita Falls, Goodsir (Lown, Rounds), 5:46; 3. Wichita Falls, Goodsir (Reisinger), pp, 7:20; 4. Wichita Falls, Litviak (Lown), 10:20. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Wichita Falls 3 for 6:00.
2nd period — 5. Wichita Falls, Pison (Litviak, Jaeger), pp, 1:01; 6. Wichita Falls, VanWyhe (Dalton, Gilreath), 3:52; 7. Wichita Falls, Reisinger (Russell, Jaeger), 5:08; 8. Kenai River, Fasegha (Cook), pp, 19:11; 9. Wichita Falls, Lown (unassisted), sh, 19:59. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Wichita Falls 6 for 22:00.
3rd period — 10. Wichita Falls, Rosa (Mismash), 3:44; 11. Kenai River, Spetz (Bofshever), 5:12. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Wichita Falls, 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 8-10-5—23; Wichita Falls 14-15-6—35.
Power plays — Kenai River 1 for 12; Wichita Falls 2 for 6.
Goalies — Kenai River, Nast (24 shots, 18 saves), Baker (11 shots, 9 saves); Wichita Falls, Kapelmaster (23 shots, 20 saves).
Bruins 8, Brown Bears 4
Austin 0 3 5 —8
Kenai River 2 2 0 —4
First period — 1. Kenai River, Estrada (Sardina, Bowe), 3:06; 2. Kenai River, Cook (Carlson), 18:59. Penalties — none.
Second period — 3. Austin, Kennedy (Misiak, Paganelli), 3:44; 4. Kenai River, Carlson (Sardina), 5:22; 5. Austin, Forfar (O’Connor, Stefka), pp, 7:47; 6. Kenai River, Carlson (Cook, Sardina), 13:55; 7. Austin, Rueschhoff (DiPietro), 15:29. Penalties — Austin 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 8. Austin, Misiak (Paganelli, Kennedy), 5:29; 9. Austin, Miller (DiPietro), 6:25; 10. Austin, DiPietro (Stefka), 9:13; 11. Austin, Miller (Gabor), en, 19:07; 12. Austin, Kennedy (Slightam), en, 19:32. Penalties — Austin 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Austin 9-12-12—33; Kenai River 8-7-8—23.
Goalies — Austin, Smith (23 shots, 19 saves); Kenai River, Baker (31 shots, 25 saves).
Power plays — Austin 1 for 3; Kenai River 0 for 3.