Brown Bears-Ice Dogs preview: Bears hope home ice cures ills

Nearly everything has failed to snap the Brown Bears from a funk. One of the last resorts for the team is home ice.

The Bears are finally done with a 13-game road trip and return to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex with 7:30 p.m. games tonight and Saturday against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.

The road trip started with a 3-2, shootout victory over the Wenatchee (Washington) Wild on Nov. 28. The Bears then lost their next 12 games, picking up just two points due to a pair of extra-time losses.

The stretch of 12 games without a win is the longest in the league this year and leaves the Bears at 11-23-2, just four points behind the Minnesota Wilderness in the race for the last playoff slot out of the North American Hockey League Midwest Division.

The biggest hope the Bears have left is home ice, where they are 6-8-0 compared to 5-15-2 on the road.

“I know for a lot of people in the community, it’s been a long two months without hockey,” Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant said. “Our goal every year is to be above .500 at home. We want to be in the three-quarter range at home, and right now we’re a couple of games below .500.”

Kenai River has 14 games left at home, while Minnesota (9-10-0 home, 5-13-0 away) has just nine home games left. The Magicians also have played one more game with the Bears.

“These games at home in the next six to eight weeks are going to determine our fate,” Beauparlant said.

The first test at home is a tough one in the form of the Ice Dogs, who are 23-11-3 and in second in the Midwest.

Fairbanks has a 5-1 lead in the Ravn Alaska Cup, the season-long battle for supremacy between Alaska’s only two junior teams.

The Ice Dogs beat the Bears 6-1 and 5-0 last weekend in Fairbanks.

The Ice Dogs were 5 of 12 on the power play in the games, while the Bears were 0 for 10.

“Our special teams need to be better,” Beauparlant said. “We were going at a pretty good clip before the break, and even carried that through Pennsylvania, but this past weekend we didn’t capitalize on special teams at all.”

Beauparlant said the good news is goalies Alec Derks and Evan Hauser continued to play well despite the losses.

“They held us in games, but you can’t ask them to hold the fort for 60 minutes without run support,” Beauparlant said. “They had been giving up some soft goals after our guys had scored, and that deflates momentum.

“But now they’re helping us increase our positive energy on the bench during the game.”

Notes: Tonight will be Tesoro Alaska night. For each $1 or food item donated to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, fans will be entered into a drawing for prizes.

Saturday will be Stanley Auto Group night and feature a Mini-Mites game between periods.

More in Sports

SoHi wrestlers 4th at Grizzly Shakedown

Soldotna High School led the Kenai Peninsula by finishing fourth Saturday at… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Reagan Graves gets ready to score a goal while Camden Kovach defends Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai hockey edges Juneau in overtime

The Kenai Central hockey team defeated Juneau-Douglas 5-4 in overtime Saturday in… Continue reading

Nick Stevens of the Kenai River Brown Bears tries to squeeze by the check of Bohdan Panasenko of the Anchorage Wolverines on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears, Wolverines split series

Resilience is nothing new for Cole Dubicki and the small group of… Continue reading

Brandonn Campbell of Juneau-Douglas keeps the puck from Dylan Arno of Homer on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, at Kevin Bell Arena in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Hockey roundup: Houston beats SoHi for Big Lake title

The Houston hockey team defeated Soldotna 5-0 in the championship game of… Continue reading

Hockey roundup: SoHi wins, Homer ties

The Soldotna hockey team opened the Big Lake Lions Classic with a… Continue reading

Former Kenai River Brown Bears head coach Kevin Murdock.
Former Kenai River Brown Bears head coach Kevin Murdock.
Former Bears coach Murdock accepts UAA assistant job

Kevin Murdock, former head coach of the Kenai River Brown Bears, has… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Parker Lockwood attacks against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Refreshed Brown Bears ready for Wolverines

The North American Hockey League does not break for Thanksgiving, but the… Continue reading

Michael Armstrong and his dog Leia harvest a Christmas tree in December 2013 on his land on Diamond Ridge near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Jenny Stroyeck)
Out of the Office: For Alaska Bush cred, head out and harvest a Christmas tree

If you don’t have your own tree lot, harvest trees on public lands.

Sun coming through snow-covered branches with cross-country ski tracks on trail. (Photo by Ashley Lutto/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: It’s more fun than walking

I’m not sure which one of us was more excited about the… Continue reading

Most Read