The Kenai River Brown Bears were swept by the host Coulee Region (Wisconsin) Chill on Friday and Saturday in North American Hockey League action.
The Bears lost 6-3 on Friday and 2-1 on Saturday to fall to 1-12-2-0, while the Chill moved to 10-4-1-0. Kenai River entered the weekend coming off its first win of the season.
“Friday, I thought we played well in spurts and really well in the third,” Kenai River head coach Jeff Worlton said. “We played really well in the third.
“Today I thought we played a good game and I’m disappointed coming out of the weekend. Ideally, you’d like a split. We were playing winning hockey and weren’t able to take advantage of the opportunities at hand.”
In Friday’s loss, the Bears fell into a quick 3-0 hole in the first period, but a pair of scoring strikes from Luke Radetic and another tally from Tyler Rock in the third period brought the Bears back into the game, trailing just 4-3 with 11 minutes to play.
That would be as close as the Bears got, however, as Coulee Region put on the chill with an insurance goal from Alex Falconer with 4:40 remaining, and Tyler Ebner slotted in the nail a minute later.
“We didn’t work with a purpose,” Worlton said Friday. “We showed up, spotted them an early goal, and weren’t able to muster a comeback.”
The Bears were outshot 25-15 in the first two periods, then outshot the Chill 16-7 in the third.
Radetic’s opening power-play goal with 36 seconds left in the first period did not seem like a game changer at the time, but Worlton said it helped to lift Kenai River’s spirit, which eventually led to the near-comeback.
“Getting that goal was a big lift, and you feel like you can come out the next period and get rolling,” he said. “But every time we were getting going, they’d get a goal.
“A good team capitalizes on mistakes, which they did.”
Worlton praised the line of Radetic, Evan Butcher and Johnny Marzec, which he said is the most productive line on the team right now.
Saturday, the Chill won the game on special teams, finishing 2 for 5 on the power play while the Bears were 0 for 5.
“Our special teams had lots of opportunities to take advantage of and couldn’t do it today,” Worlton said.
Joey Sofo put the Chill up 1-0 in the first period on a power-play goal.
In the second period, David Kaplan drew the Bears to even on an assist by Jordan Holmes. Kaplan scored on a breakaway, but Worlton said the Bears had two or three other breakaways they could not cash in.
But with just 3:44 left in the game, Steven Quagliata gave Coulee Region the game winner on the power play.
Bailey Seagraves had 30 saves for the Bears and Worlton gave him credit for a good game, while Joe Marcoullier stopped 21 for the Chill.
The Bears now return home, hosting the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
“We’re always excited to get back home, get back into our routine with the billets up in Alaska and get back on our ice sheet,” Worlton said. “Janesville is a tough match. They beat Fairbanks. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
Chill 6, Brown Bears 3
Kenai River 1 0 2 —3
Coulee Region 3 1 2 —6
1st period — 1. Coulee Region, Sofo (Jungwirth, Quagliata), PP, 4:10; 2. Coulee Region, Trapp (Falconer, Quagliata), 6:38; 3. Coulee Region, Corbett (Dineen, Donovan), 13:51; 4. Kenai River, Radetic (Lipe), PP, 19:24. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Coulee Region 1 for 2:00.
2nd period — 5. Coulee Region, Corbett (Quagliata, Wolter), 13:18. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Coulee Region 2 for 4:00.
3rd period — 6. Kenai River, Radetic (unassisted), 1:12; 7. Kenai River, Rock (unassisted), PP, 9:00; 8. Coulee Region, Falconer (Jungwirth, Quagliata), PP, 15:20; 9. Coulee Region, Ebner (Collins, Hines), 16:18. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Coulee Region 4 for 8:00.
Shots — Kenai River 8-7-16—31; Coulee Region 13-12-7—32.
Goalies — Kenai River, Goor (9 shots, 7 saves), Seagraves (23 shots, 19 saves); Coulee Region, Scott (31 shots, 28 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 2 for 6; Coulee Region 2 for 4.
Chill 2, Brown Bears 1
Kenai River 0 1 0 —1
Coulee Region 1 0 1 —2
First period — 1. Coulee Region, Sofo (Jungwirth, Quagliata), pp, 9:20. Penalties — Kenai River 5 for 18:00; Coulee Region 2 for 7:00.
Second period — 2. Kenai River, Kaplan (Holmes), 12:57. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Coulee Region 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 3. Coulee Region, Quagliata (Falconer, Sofo), pp, 16:16. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Coulee Region 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 4-13-5—22; Coulee Region 12-10-10—32.
Goalies — Kenai River, Seagraves (32 shots, 30 saves); Coulee Region, Marcoullier (22 shots, 21 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 5; Coulee Region 2 for 5.