Brown Bears take Friday, Saturday contests from Ice Dogs

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion The Brown Bears mob goalie Robbie Goor after a 5-2 victory over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion The Brown Bears mob goalie Robbie Goor after a 5-2 victory over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Breakthroughs often don’t come subtly.

The Kenai River Brown Bears beat the rival Fairbanks Ice Dogs 5-2 on Friday and 6-3 on Saturday in North American Hockey League action at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

The 11 goals in two games represented an eruption for the Bears, who hadn’t scored more than three goals in a game before this weekend. Kenai River also had just 11 five-on-five goals in 19 games.

“They’ve been practicing better and going to the shooting range,” Kenai River head coach Jeff Worlton said. “Last weekend against Springfield, we couldn’t get over the hump.

“Yesterday and today, we’ve gotten over the hump so far. Maybe the guys are bearing down more.”

By defeating the Ice Dogs for the first time since March 21, 2015, the Bears pulled even at 2 in the Ravn Alaska Cup.

Kenai River snapped a six-game skid and moved to 3-16-2-0, while Fairbanks lost for the 10th straight time to fall to 7-13-2-1.

The teams finish the three-game series today at 5 p.m. at the sports complex.

Friday, the Bears treated 333 fans to the first home win of the season.

“The boys played as a team,” Worlton said. “It was a great team win.”

Kenai River goalie Robbie Goor said he had a feeling the Bears were getting close to a scoring outburst.

“Every day they’re going to the shooting room and shooting at least 100 pucks a day,” Goor said.

The shooting room is down the street from the sports complex and has a tarp set up with a picture of a goalie and a goal, and holes in the corners of the goal.

While one goal Friday was a tap-in off a rebound and another was an empty-netter, the other three came on snipes to the corners.

“We’re trying to create more offense, not just shooting the puck, but creating scoring chances,” Worlton said. “We want to get good shots off.”

Luke Radetic got the Bears going in the first when he tapped in the rebound off a Jonathan Marzec shot for a power-play goal. Including Saturday, Radetic has nine goals in his last nine games.

Kenai River then went up 2-0 with 5:33 to play in the first when Anthony Tzveyn gained the middle of the ice and hit a corner on Fairbanks goalie Joshua Sarlo.

But the Ice Dogs closed the period on a power-play goal by Hunter Wendt to make it 2-1.

Fairbanks carried that momentum into the second period, but, thanks to Goor, didn’t have anything to show for it.

“I got some great support from the boys,” Goor said. “They were keeping the front of the net clean and helping me see the shots.

“That made it easy for me.”

Kenai River gained back the momentum late in the second on a power play, then with just 18 seconds left in the period, Marzec streaked down the left side and beat Sarlo to the far corner. Worlton also gave credit to Radetic for hustling into the play and giving Sarlo something else to think about.

“That’s the goal we’ve been craving,” Worlton said. “We’ve been getting to two, but we’ve been having a hard time getting to three.”

Just 3:49 into the third, Kenai River got to four for the first time all season. The puck bounced out to defenseman Shayne Monahan, and he picked a corner and hit it.

“That’s one of the things we’ve been stressing all week,” Worlton said. “The D has to help us create offense.”

Even with a 4-1 lead in the third, seasoned Brown Bears fans knew the Ice Dogs were fully capable of a comeback.

With 4:05 left, University of Alaska Anchorage recruit Aaron McPheters scored on the power play from the high slot when Goor was screened.

Ice Dogs coach Trevor Stewart immediately pressed the advantage by pulling Sarlo.

“After the goal, all the boys came by and told me not to get down,” Goor said. “All of us pulled together to finish the game out.”

Ethan Stewart clinched the game with an empty-net goal with 51 seconds left.

Sarlo made 20 saves, while Goor had 33.

Saturday, the Ice Dogs received goals from Marc Sullivan and Robert Blueger to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the first half of the first period.

“We started off a bit slow, but credit to Fairbanks,” Worlton said. “They came out on a mission to try and score first and try to take charge of the game.

“We stayed on the team page and buckled down.”

Tyler Rock got the Bears to within 2-1 before the close of the first, then Radetic and Matthew Thielemann scored on the power play to put the Bears up 3-2 early in the second. Luke Orysiuk tied it heading into the third.

Marzec made it 4-3 less than a minute into the third, and less than five minutes later Stewart made it a two-goal cushion.

Radetic closed the scoring with a power-play empty-netter.

“Our power play came through,” Worlton said. “They have a very good penalty kill and we made some plays and just beared down on our chances.”

Goor and Fairbanks tender Conor O’Brien each had 25 saves.

“Fairbanks has a lot of pride and a great coaching staff,” Worlton said. “They’re going to do their best to come back and try to win tomorrow.”

 

Friday

Brown Bears 5, Ice Dogs 2

Fairbanks 1 0 1 —2

Kenai River 2 1 2 —5

First period — 1. Kenai River, Radetic (Marzec, Lipe), pp, 12:28; 2. Kenai River, Tzveyn (Stewart, Monahan), 14:27; 3. Fairbanks, Wendt (Eriksson, McPheters), pp, 18:12. Penalties — Fairbanks 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

Second period — 4. Kenai River, Marzec (Sterne, Holmes), 19:42. Penalties — Fairbanks 3 for 6:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

Third period — 5. Kenai River, Monahan (Stewart, Mezera), 3:49; 6. Fairbanks, McPheters (Eriksson, Marva), pp, 15:55; 7. Kenai River, Stewart (Tzveyn, Lipe), en, 19:09. Penalties — Fairbanks 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

Shots on goal — Fairbanks 13-12-10—35; Kenai River 8-12-5—25.

Goaltenders — Fairbanks, Sarlo (24 shots, 20 saves); Kenai River, Goor (35 shots, 33 saves).

Power plays — Fairbanks 2 for 4, Kenai River 1 for 4.

 

Saturday

Brown Bears 6, Ice Dogs 3

Fairbanks 2 1 0 —3

Kenai River 1 2 3 —6

First period — 1. Fairbanks, Sullivan (Blueger, Orysiuk), 6:57; 2. Blueger (Fletcher, Gavin), 9:26; 3. Kenai River, Rock (Wade, Butcher), 16:59. Penalties — Fairbanks 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

Second period — 4. Kenai River, Radetic (Kaplan, Marzec), pp, 0:56; 5. Kenai River, Thielemann (Radetic, Stewart), pp, 3:22; 6. Fairbanks, Orysiuk (Sullivan, Fletcher), 17:07. Penalties — Fairbanks 4 or 16:00; Kenai River 2 for 12:00.

Third period — 7. Kenai River, Marzec (Radetic, Kaplan), 0:56; 8. Kenai River, Stewart (Monahan, Weeks), 5:12; 9. Kenai River, Radetic (Warmen, Lipe), pp, en, 17:12. Penalties — Fairbanks 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Shots on goal — Fairbanks 11-6-10—27; Kenai River 4-17-10—31.

Goalies — Fairbanks, O’Brien (30 shots, 25 saves); Kenai River, Goor (27 shots, 25 saves).

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Brown Bears goalie Robbie Goor pokes away an attack Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Brown Bears goalie Robbie Goor pokes away an attack Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Jordan Holmes of the Brown Bears shields the puck from Colton Fletcher of the Ice Dogs on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Jordan Holmes of the Brown Bears shields the puck from Colton Fletcher of the Ice Dogs on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Anthony Tzveyn of the Brown Bears and Nolan Schaeffer of the Ice Dogs tangle for the puck Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Anthony Tzveyn of the Brown Bears and Nolan Schaeffer of the Ice Dogs tangle for the puck Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate a first-period goal by Anthony Tzveyn on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate a first-period goal by Anthony Tzveyn on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Brown Bears forward David Kaplan battles in the corner with Nolan Schaeffer and Dean Hewines of Fairbanks on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion Brown Bears forward David Kaplan battles in the corner with Nolan Schaeffer and Dean Hewines of Fairbanks on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

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