Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Kenai Brown Bears' Will Schwartz collides with Fairbanks Ice Dogs' player to take control of the puck, Friday, September 12, 2014, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Kenai Brown Bears' Will Schwartz collides with Fairbanks Ice Dogs' player to take control of the puck, Friday, September 12, 2014, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Brown Bears split with Ice Dogs

Last year, it took the Kenai River Brown Bears eight games to beat their northern rivals, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.

Saturday night at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, the Brown Bears got over that hurdle in their second game of the season, topping Fairbanks 5-3. Coincidentally, Kenai River’s first win over Fairbanks on Dec. 7 of last season was a 5-3 contest.

The win also knotted up the Ravn Alaska Cup — the annual season series between the two squads — at a game apiece.

“Getting that first win of the year is important, no matter who we play,” said Kenai River coach Geoff Beauparlant. “I thought both teams played extremely hard over the weekend, they were evenly matched, and it’s gonna be a season-long battle with them over sixteen games.”

Doc Gentzler scored the go-ahead goal Saturday with 7 minutes, 52 seconds, left in the game.

The Ice Dogs scored with about 2 1-2 minutes remaining on a power play to close the deficit to one point, but Matt Rudin sealed the win with a score on an empty net with 14 ticks left. Rudin ended the night with two goals.

“(Gentzler’s) goal was just a shot from the point, it took a rebound, and he was willing to go through the tough areas,” Beauparlant said. “It was the kind of thing that we weren’t willing to do last night. We made the adjustments and it worked out good.” 

Logan Wendling and Maurin Bouvet added a goal apiece, and Tyler Andrews provided a pair of assists.

After being outshot by Fairbanks 29-13 in the first two periods, Kenai River charged back in the third with renewed vigor. After Gentzler’s goal, the Bears were tasked with holding off the Ice Dogs under the duress of a five-minute Fairbanks power play.

Beauparlant added that he was pleased to see more offensive traffic around the Fairbanks net, along with blocked shots on the other end of the ice.

“That penalty kill was a huge boost of energy for us,” Beauparlant said. “Guys like Rudin and (Evan) Butcher and Jake Gerson really laid it on the line tonight.”

The win leaves the Bears with a big boost of momentum and confidence heading into next week’s North American Hockey League Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota.

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs started their defense of the Robertson Cup Friday night by beating the Kenai River Brown Bears.

Jesper Ohrvall scored twice for Fairbanks in a 3-1 North American Hockey League triumph in front of 817 fans. Last season, the Ice Dogs had opened the season with a 5-1 victory in Soldotna.

“It was kind of sloppy,” said Ice Dogs coach Trevor Stewart, who returns 10 players from last season, including one that is currently injured. “Both teams played hard.

“We were fortunate to get a couple bounces. I think it was two good teams and anybody’s game.”

Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant, who returns five from last season, said the two sides were feeling each other out in the first two periods, which ended deadlocked at 1.

“I think the third period was better hockey,” Beauparlant said. “Both teams had chances. They found a way to score goals.”

Fairbanks struck first just 4 minutes, 16 seconds, into the game, when Ohrvall scored on an assist from Joshua Gabriel.

The game that got choppy as four penalties — three on the Bears — were called in the space of 3:36, leading to 5-on-4, 4-on-4, 5-on-3 and 4-on-3 situations.

It’s a little early in the season for teams to have worked extensively on all those scenarios, but Beauparlant said it was a good sign his team escaped that stretch unscathed.

“It was good because it gave us video we can work with,” Beauparlant said. “The guys adjusted quickly. That shows we have intelligent players with high hockey IQs.”

Matt Wikman tied the game for the Bears just 3:49 into the second, taking a pass from Evan Butcher, skating out of the corner to the faceoff circle, and beating Fairbanks goalie Patrick Munson.

“I think he played a good, all-around game,” Beauparlant said of Wikman. “That was a nice example of what he can do.”

With 29 seconds left in the second period, Fairbanks appeared to take the lead back when Ohrvall took a shot that Kenai River goalie Zach Quinn couldn’t quite handle, leaving Johnny Mueller to poke in the rebound.

But the whistle had blown when Quinn had appeared to glove Ohrvall’s shot, meaning the play was dead before the goal scored.

“Our veterans did a good job,” Stewart said. “I didn’t say anything. They just said that there are 30 seconds left in the period and we can get through this.”

Beauparlant said the reprieve had his team playing better hockey until 4:35 into the final period, when Ohrvall scored after Quinn had already saved a pair of shots.

“That was just poor clearance from in front of our net,” Beauparlant said.

With 11:13 left, Lonnie Clary, the third-year Ice Dog who has been a thorn in the Bears side, picked up a loose puck behind the defense and rammed in an unassisted insurance goal.

Beauparlant said the goal came due to poor defensive coverage, while Stewart credited a good forecheck and good stick.

From there, Stewart said Munson and the defensemen did a solid job of closing out the game. Munson had 21 saves, while Quinn had 25.

Beauparlant said a highlight for his squad was the play of the line of Jacob Gerson, Sam Carlson and Tanner Schachle. It was the first junior game for all three.

“Those three really pushed for ice time and played well,” Beauparlant said.

 

Clarion reporter Joey Klecka contributed to this story. 


Saturday

Brown Bears 5, Ice Dogs 3

Kenai River 1 1 3 —5

Fairbanks 1 1 1 —3 

First period — 1. Fairbanks, Hetz (Madry), 14:50; 2. Kenai River, Bouvet (Andrews, Wendling), pp, 17:48. Penalties — Fairbanks 2 for 4:00.

Second period — 3. Fairbanks, H. Gorowsky (R. Gorowsky, Nilson), 2:31; 4. Kenai River, Rudin (Ehlers, Andrews), 9:20. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

Third period — 5. Kenai River, Gentzler (Campbell), pp, 12:08; 6. Kenai River, Wendling (Wikman), 14:42; 7. Fairbanks, Ohrvall (Madry, Gorowski), 17:32; 8. Kenai River, Rudin (Berglund, Butcher), EN, 19:46. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 17:00; Fairbanks 3 for 6:00.

Shots on goal — Kenai River 6-7-15—28; Fairbanks 18-11-9—38.

Goalies — Fairbanks, Munson (27 shots, 23 saves); Kenai River, Healy (38 shots, 35 saves).

Power plays — Fairbanks 1 for 3; Kenai River 2 for 4.

 

Friday

Ice Dogs 3, Brown Bears 1

Fairbanks 1 0 2 —3

Kenai River 0 1 0 —1

First period — 1. Fairbanks, Ohrvall (Gabriel), 4:16. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Fairbanks 1 for 2:00.

Second period — 2. Kenai River, Wikman (Butcher), 3:49. Penalties — Fairbanks 2 for 4:00.

Third period — 3. Fairbanks, Ohrvall (Stridsberg, Madry), 4:35; 4. Fairbanks, Clary (un.), 8:47. Penalties — Fairbanks 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

Shots on goal — Fairbanks 6-7-15—28; Kenai River 7-7-8—22.

Goalies — Fairbanks, Munson (22 shots, 21 saves); Kenai River, Quinn (28 shots, 25 saves).

Power plays — Fairbanks 0 for 6; Kenai River 0 for 3.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Kenai Brown Bears' Collin Charyszyn and Fairbanks Ice Dogs' Jacob Hetz go for the puck, Friday, September 12, 2014, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Kenai Brown Bears’ Collin Charyszyn and Fairbanks Ice Dogs’ Jacob Hetz go for the puck, Friday, September 12, 2014, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Fairbanks Ice Dogs' goalie Patrick Munson misses a puck, Friday, September 12, 2014, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Fairbanks Ice Dogs’ goalie Patrick Munson misses a puck, Friday, September 12, 2014, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

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