Brown Bears shut out Steel

Brown Bears shut out Steel

The Kenai River Brown Bears continued the upswing they had been on before former head coach Josh Petrich resigned for personal reasons last weekend.

The Bears had earned six points in four games before Petrich resigned. Thursday and Friday at the Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel, the Bears got three more points with an overtime loss Thursday and a 5-0 victory Friday.

“The kids have been working hard all week in practice,” interim head coach Dan Bogdan said. “Despite the loss, I thought we played well (Thursday), and tonight we won in convincing fashion.”

Kenai River is now 16-23-3-2 and 13 points out of the final playoff spot in the North American Hockey League Midwest Division. Chippewa is last in the division at 15-28-2-1.

The Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues have been red hot of late and have rocketed up the Midwest standings into a tie with the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets for third place. Kenai River travels to Springfield for games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Chris Hedlund, associate general manager, joined Bogdan on the bench this weekend. Justin Adams, an assistant who had been helping out at home games, will join the Bears for the rest of the trip.

Kenai River’s defense and goaltender Gavin Enright continued to be stingy, giving up just two goals in the two-game series. Heading into the Chippewa series, the Bears were coming off a 5-0 loss to the Corpus Christi (Texas) IceRays.

Enright had 33 saves for his third shutout of the season.

“Our defense is something that’s been great all year and especially lately, except last Saturday against Corpus,” Bogdan said. “Our defensive corps stepped up again tonight. It was the best win so far this season on both sides of the puck.”

Offensively is where the Bears have struggled, scoring the second fewest goals in the league. Kenai River is showing signs of turning that around, having scored five goals in two of its last four games.

“We’ve preached all season that’s it’s about skill development and it’s not just about wins and losses,” Bogdan said. “It’s a tough process, taking on a new skill, but they’ve taken it to heart and it’s paying dividends.”

Connor Scahill led the Bears on Friday with two goals. He now has eight goals and 11 assists in 42 games. His first came just 1 minute, 26 seconds, into the game after he got the puck off of a faceoff on a set play and scored. He then put the Bears up 5-0 midway through the third period on a one-timer.

“His teammates got him the puck in a good spot and he did a good job reading the play and getting open,” Bogdan said. “He’s got a great release — a lot of our guys do.”

Justin Daly, JJ Boucher and Eagle River’s Zach Krajnik also scored, while newcomer Lukass Sicevs added a pair of assists.

Bogdan said his squad had the best forecheck of the season and that helped generate chances and kill off all eight power plays.

In the playoff race, Bogdan said the Bears can only continue to focus on themselves.

“The rest of the division can play out the way it wants,” he said. “We want to continue to win and control our own destiny as all the skill development we’ve done starts to pay off.”


Brown Bears 5, Steel 0

Kenai River 2 1 2 — 5

Chippewa 0 0 0 — 0

First period — 1. Kenai River, Scahill (Nauss, Sicevs), 1:26; 2. Kenai River, Krajnik (Spethmann, Sicevs), 10:37. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Second period — 3. Kenai River, Daly (Moline), 3:21. Penalties — Kenai River 7 for 22:00; Chippewa 3 for 6:00.

Third period — 4. Kenai River, Boucher (un.), 7:37; 5. Kenai River, Scahill (Krajnik, Boucher), 11:49. Penalties — Kenai River 4 for 30:00; Chippewa 4 for 22:00.

Shots on goal — Kenai River 8-6-19—33; Chippewa 5-16-12—33.

Goalies — Kenai River, Enright (33 shots, 33 saves); Chippewa, Samokhvalov (9 shots, 6 saves); Langford (24 shots, 22 saves).

Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 3, Chippewa 0 for 8.

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