The Kenai River Brown Bears notched a pair of exhibition victories over the Austin (Minnesota) Bruins on Friday and Saturday.
Friday, at the Breezy Point Hockey Center in Minnesota, Kenai River notched a 4-2 victory. Saturday, at the Riverside Arena in Austin, Minnesota, the Brown Bears won 3-0. Saturday’s game was just two periods because Kenai River’s bus broke down on the way to the game.
The Bears have an extensive exhibition schedule leading up to the season opener at the Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel on Nov. 6.
The Bears have two exhibition games next weekend, then Halloween weekend will feature a jamboree against other Midwest Division teams.
Kenai River head coach Kevin Murdock said 40 players reported to training camp on Oct. 7 and coaches want to get a good look at the players in practice and game situations.
With some NAHL teams going dark this season due to the new coronavirus pandemic, the Bears picked up several players in a dispersal draft. Murdock then decided to add a few more players to get to 40.
That way, the Bears can practice in two groups. Also, the exhibition games Friday and Saturday featured two totally different lineups, except for three players.
Murdock said training camp is being held in Breezy Point, where the Bears have created a bubble for the players. He said players have two temperature checks a day, plus fill out a daily form about symptoms. Murdock said all players are healthy so far.
The Bears will break that bubble and go to their regular season housing in Anoka, Minnesota, for Halloween weekend. The plan currently is to stay in the Lower 48 until returning to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Jan. 15 for a game against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, also spending the first half of the season in Minnesota.
Murdock said the Bears will have to be down to 24 players by the time the season starts.
In Friday’s game, Austin grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on a goal from Brendan Dicker, assisted by Cullen Rush. Kenai River came back to tie it in the first when Jeffrey Lee scored, assisted by Lucas Wahlin and Max Helgeson.
In the second, Adam Szubert, assisted by Porter Schachle and Peter Morgan, scored on the power play to put the Bears up 2-1. Morgan, assisted by Shayne Tomlinson and Schachle, pushed the lead to 3-1 to start the third.
Murdock said Schachle decided to play with the Bears this season with the future of the University of Alaska Anchorage hockey program in jeopardy after this season.
Austin cut it to 3-2 when Connor Mylymok scored, assisted by Kyle Oleksiuk, with 14 minutes left. Morgan sealed it with an empty-netter late in the game.
In Saturday’s game, Kenai River grabbed a 2-0 lead after the first period on tallies by Dylan Evans, assisted by Isaac Lindstrom, and Oliver Charest, assisted by Parker Lockwood. In the second, Charest scored on the power play, assisted by Gabe Shipper and Caleb Huffman, to put the Bears up 3-0.
In the third, Ryan Miknich wrapped things up with an empty-net goal. Cole Hudson and Nathan Dickey combined for the shutout for Kenai River.