The Kenai River Brown Bears recorded a 5-4 overtime victory over the Anchorage Wolverines on Friday in North American Hockey League action at Ben Boeke Ice Arena in Anchorage.
The Bears got back on the winning track after being swept by Anchorage at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex last weekend.
Kenai River, at 16-11-1-0, is tied for third with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in the tight Midwest Division. The Minnesota Wilderness lead with 35 points, the Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel have 34 points, and both the Ice Dogs and Brown Bears have 33. Anchorage, at 11-10-5-1, is in sixth place with 28 points. Just 11 points separate the top and bottom of the division.
The Bears also improve their standing in the Club 49 Cup. Anchorage now has 15, while the Ice Dogs have nine and the Bears have seven.
The same two teams play at 7 p.m. tonight at Ben Boeke.
Garett Drotts, assisted by Ryan Finch and Joe Manning, had the game-winner 2:08 into the five-minute overtime. Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said Finch was able to take the puck from Anchorage in the neutral zone to set up a two-on-one.
When the Anchorage defender went down, Finch waited for him to slide by, then slid the winning pass to Drotts.
“For sure, it wasn’t easy tonight,” Shaw said. “I’m proud of our group for finding a way to fight through it.”
Kenai River started fast, taking a 2-0 lead 1:42 into the game. Nick Stevens, assisted by Finch and Triggs, and Ashton Christman, assisted by Noah Holt and Owen Hanson, had the goals.
“We talked about it all week and it was a point of emphasis during our meetings today,” Shaw said of getting off to a fast start. “We were executing right away and it was good to see.”
Anchorage stormed back with four unanswered goals. David Tolan and Danny Reis scored to close the first, then Fedya Nikolayenya had two goals in the second period.
Going into the third period down two goals, Shaw said his squad had a belief it could come back. Shaw said the Bears did a good job of not forcing the game.
With 11:12 left, Triggs, assisted by Holt and Hanson, scored just a few seconds after an Anchorage power play. Then Newhouse, assisted by Drotts and Ben Monson, scored on the power play with 3:47 left.
Nils Wallstrom had 29 saves for Kenai River, while Eino Rissanen stopped 25 for the Wolverines.
“He made all the saves and more we could ask for tonight,” Shaw said of Wallstrom.
Brown Bears 5, Wolverines 4, OT
Kenai River 2 0 2 1 —5
Anchorage 2 2 0 0 —4
First period — 1. Kenai River, Stevens (Finch, Triggs), 0:36; 2. Kenai River, Christman (Holt, Hanson), 1:42; 3. Anchorage, Tolan (Nikolayenya, Allen), pp, 9:02; 4. Anchorage, Reis (Ramsey, Reineke), 14:41. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Anchorage 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 5. Anchorage, Nikolayenya (Tolan, Hennen), pp, 6:34; 6. Anchorage, Nikolayenya (Bauer, Hennen), 16:37. Penalties — Kenai River 4 for 8:00; Anchorage 4 for 8:00.
Third period — 7. Kenai River, Triggs (Holt, Hanson), 8:48; 8. Kenai River, Newhouse (Drotts, Monson), 16:13. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Anchorage 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 14-8-6-2—30; Anchorage 8-16-8-1—33.
Goalies — Kenai River, Wallstrom (33 shots, 29 saves); Anchorage, Rissanen (30 shots, 25 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 1 for 7; Anchorage 2 for 6.