Opening night for the 2019 North American Hockey League season didn’t go the Kenai River Brown Bear’s way Wednesday as the peninsula team lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Pennsylvania) Knights.
Playing at the NAHL Showcase event in Blaine, Minnesota, the Brown Bears scored twice in the third period to take a 2-1 lead, but gave it up on a power play goal by the Knights, who tied it with 8 minutes, 58 seconds, left in regulation.
After a scoreless overtime period, the shootout came down to Johnny Kaljian’s stick, as the Knights forward was the only player to score after seven other players failed to find the back of the net.
Kenai River sent up Zach Krajnik, Theo Thrun, Kyle Valiquette and Trey LaBarge in the shootout, but all four players were denied by Knights goalie Zach Stejskal.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton sent Lincoln Hatten, Tyrone Bronte and Shane Murphy to score, but none were able to crack Bears goalie Landon Pavlisin until Kaljian took his shot.
In the first period, the Knights took a 1-0 lead on a Lincoln Hatten goal, a lead that held until the third period. Thrun tied it for Kenai River just 59 seconds into the third with help from Krajnik, and Valiquette gave the Bears the lead at the 7:56 mark.
An interference penalty by Krajnik put the Knights on the power play, and the Bears nearly had it killed until Hatten tied it with just two seconds left on the man advantage.
The Bears continue with three more games this weekend at the NAHL Showcase, starting Thursday with a 4:30 p.m. (AKDT) clash with the Lone Star Brahmas. The Bears will face the Jamestown Rebels and the Austin Bruins on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The Bears’ home opener is Oct. 11 against the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets.
Knights 3, Brown Bears 2, SO
Kenai River 0 0 2 0 —2
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 1 0 1 0 —3
1st period — 1. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Hatten (Wood, Bronte), 6:33. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 1 for 2:00.
2nd period — no scoring. Penalties — Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 for 6:00.
3rd period — 2. Kenai River, Thrun (Krajnik), 0:59; 3. Kenai River, Valiquette (unassisted), 7:56; 4. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Hatten (Bronte, Bertrand), PP, 11:02. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 for 6:00.
OT — no scoring. Penalties — none.
Shootout — Kenai River (Krajnik NG, Thurn NG, Valiquette NG, LaBarge NG); Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Hatten NG, Bronte NG, Murphy NG, Kaljian G).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 6; Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 1 for 4.