The Kenai River Brown Bears swept the host Minot (North Dakota) Minotauros on Friday and Saturday in North American Hockey League play.
The Bears won 5-2 on Friday night and 4-1 on Saturday night to move to 6-3-0-0 on the season and remain in second place in the Midwest Division. Minot falls to 8-9-2-1.
Kenai River, winners of three straight, plays the Minnesota Wilderness on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. AKST at the Breezy Point Hockey Center, which is the Bears’ temporary home away from Alaska.
In Friday’s contest, Minot jumped to a 2-0 lead just nine minutes into the game, but the Bears stormed back by scoring five unanswered goals.
“Minot had been off since New Year’s and they came out pretty hard and got two goals in the first five minutes of the game,” Kenai River head coach Kevin Murdock said. “I think that woke the guys up. It was nice to see when they got down two in the first five minutes of the game, they didn’t fold up shop.”
Morgan Winters cut it to 2-1 before the end of the first period. In the second, Laudon Poellinger, Wasilla’s Porter Schachle and Anchorage’s Max Helgeson gave the Bears a 4-2 lead.
Schachle then had a empty-netter in the third period.
Luve Pavicich made 31 saves for the Bears, while Keenan Rancier stopped 32 for the Minotauros.
“He was really good this weekend,” Murdock said of Pavicich. “The first one on the weekend, he might want back, but the other two were good goals and he made some huge saves.”
In Saturday’s contest, David Vieten and Eagle River’s Brandon Lajoie got the Bears out to a 2-0 lead in a first period marked by both teams piling up penalty minutes.
Vieten then had the lone goal of the second period.
Murdock said Vieten made a strong comeback after getting eight wisdom teeth pulled last weekend.
“He’s a guy, when you give him the opportunity, he can put the puck in the back of the net,” Murdock said. “He’s got a good shot.”
In the third, Lucas Wahlin scored early for the Brown Bears, before Minot broke up the shutout with a power-play goal with 5:31 to play.
Pavicich stopped 40 for the Bears, while Rancier had 43 saves for the Minotauros.
Murdock said the young defensemen continue to progress. Minot had played more games than the Bears, but that didn’t stop Kenai River’s D from having a solid weekend.
Brown Bears 5, Minotauros 2
Kenai River 1 3 1 —5
Minot 2 0 0 —2
First period — 1. Minot, Roloson (Schmunk), 6:16; 2. Minot, Temple (Warnert, Bogenhom), 8:59; 3. Kenai River, Winters (Schachle, Green), 13:23. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 4. Kenai River, Poellinger (Dodge, Wahlin), 1:38; 5. Kenai River, Schachle (Szubert, Winters), pp, 10:10; 6. Kenai River, Helgeson (Thrun, Jeffers), 11:06. Penalties — Minot 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 7. Kenai River, Schachle (en), 19:31. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Minot 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 13-15-9—37; Minot 12-10-11—33.
Goalies — Kenai River, Pavicich (33 shots, 31 saves); Minot, Rancier (36 shots, 32 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 1 for 4; Minot 0 for 2.
Brown Bears 4, Minotauros 1
Kenai River 2 1 1 —4
Minot 0 0 1 —1
First period — 1. Kenai River, Vieten (McCormack, Dubicki), 2:06; 2. Kenai River, Lajoie (Helgeson, Thrun), 18:56. Penalties — Kenai River 6 for 44:00; Minot 5 for 39:00.
Second period — 3. Kenai River, Vieten (Morgan, Winters), 14:38. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 6:00; Minot 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 4. Kenai River, Wahlin (Poellinger, Dodge), 1:45; 5. Minot, Anderson (Lawson, Westlund), pp, 14:29. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Minot 2 for 12:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 14-19-14—47; Minot 15-11-15—41.
Goalies — Kenai River, Pavicich (41 shots, 40 saves); Minot, Rancier (47 shots, 43 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 1; Minot 1 for 6.