The Kenai River Brown Bears split the first two games of a three-game series in Wenatchee, Washington, winning 3-2 Friday before dropping a 5-2 decision Saturday.
The Bears sit at 7-9-0, which is last place in the North American Hockey League Midwest Division. The Wild are also in last place in the South Division, with a 4-7-3 record.
Friday, Joseph Kaszupski scored the game-winner in his first game back in Wenatchee since the Wild traded him, giving the Brown Bears a 3-2 victory.
Kaszupski was acquired from Wenatchee on Oct. 22 for goalie Zach Quinn, who was in the net for the Wild on Friday.
“I thought Quinn played well for them and I thought Joey played very well,” Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant said. “Both teams got what they were looking for out of the deal.
“I’m sure for Joey, it felt pretty good for him to do that to his former teammates.”
The Brown Bears had come back from a 2-0, late-second-period deficit in front of 2,286 to knot the game at 2 when Alex Jackstadt and Kaszupski broke out on a two-on-one with 3 minutes, 58 seconds, left to play.
“Joey outwaited the goaltender and put it up over him,” Beauparlant said. “It was a nice finish.”
The Wild had taken a 1-0 lead after one period on a goal from Brendan Harris and a 2-0 lead with 13:02 left in the second on a tally by Colin Burston.
Alec Derks, who made 25 saves, shut the Wild down the rest of the way. Quinn had 14 saves for the Wild.
“He played solid,” Beauparlant said of Derks. “He couldn’t be faulted for either goal.”
The Bears were outshot 13-2 in the second period in official stats, although Beauparlant said he had the Bears down for a few more shots than that.
But what isn’t in dispute is the lift the squad got from a goal by Joey Sardina, assisted by Ben Campbell and Tyler Andrews, with just eight seconds left in the period.
“Sardina made a nice move on the wall off the rush and was able to slip it past the goaltender,” Beauparlant said.
Ryan Meure, an affiliate player with the Bears for the weekend, tied the game 4:54 into the third period.
Beauparlant said Meure was patient on the forecheck and intercepted a pass to earn a breakaway, which he converted.
The Bears tendered Meure last season and hold his rights. He decided to finish high school at home this year while playing for the San Jose Jr. Sharks of the North American Prospects Hockey League. Beauparlant said the Bears are seeing if Meure will be ready for next season.
“I thought we stayed positive throughout the whole game,” Beauparlant said. “We didn’t let the score dictate our energy level.”
The coach gave credit to Jack Gessert and Maurin Bouvet for logging a lot of minutes due to the suspensions of Matt Rudin and Austin Chavez.
Saturday, the Bears fell in a 3-0 hole with Ivan Bondarenko and David Powlowski scoring in the first period, and Ryan Gotelaere scoring just 23 seconds into the second period.
Beauparlant said the Bears had to kill off a lot of penalties early in the game and that drained his club a bit.
Colton Fletcher got the Brown Bears going with a second-period goal, assisted by Ben Campbell and Tyler Andrews. Fletcher put in the rebound off an Andrews shot.
Beauparlant said the Bears carried the momentum for about 15 minutes after Fletcher’s goal.
With 15:10 left in the game, Kenai River got within a goal when Austin Chavez scored on assists from Gustav Berglund and Kaszupski. Chavez put in the rebound on a Berglund shot.
But about a minute later, Beauparlant said the Wild caught the Bears in the defensive zone for a long period of time, leading to a goal by Colin Burston. That swung the momentum, and Brendan Harris finished off Kenai River with a goal.
“We had the same problems we’ve had all weekend, inconsistent execution and failing to utilize our team speed,” Beauparlant said. “I think Wenatchee wanted it more than us.”
Derks had 19 saves for the Bears, while Quinn had 20 for the Wild.
The Bears stay in Wenatchee to face the Wild at 4:05 p.m. AST today.
Bears notes: Former Bears Albin Karlsson and Conor Deal scored their first collegiate goals Friday night.
Karlsson, playing for Niagara University, lit the lamp in a 3-1 loss to American International, while Deal, playing for Gustavus Adolphus, scored in a 4-2 loss to Bethel.
Brown Bears 3, Wild 2
Kenai River 0 1 2 —3
Wenatchee 1 1 0 —2
First period — 1. Wenatchee, Harris (Chiasson), sh, 10:34. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Wenatchee 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Wenatchee, Burston (Raabe), 6:58; 3. Kenai River, Sardina (Campbell, Andrews), 19:52. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Wenatchee 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 4. Kenai River, Meure (un.), 4:54; 5. Kenai River, Kaszupski (Jackstadt), 16:02. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Wenatchee 2 for 12:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 9-2-6—17; Wenatchee 7-13-7—27.
Goalies — Kenai River, Derks (27 shots, 25 saves); Wenatchee, Quinn (17 shots, 14 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 3; Wenatchee 0 for 3.
Wild 5, Brown Bears 2
Kenai River 0 1 1 —2
Wenatchee 2 1 2 —5
First period — 1. Wenatchee, Bondarenko (Demario, Harris), 4:16; 2. Wenatchee, Powlowski (Raabe, Bryant), 9:57. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Wenatchee 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 3. Wenatchee, Gotelaere (Ahlgren, Harris), 0:23; 4. Kenai River, Fletcher (Campbell, Andrews), 10:05. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Wenatchee 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 5. Kenai River, Chavez (Berglund, Kaszupski), 4:50; 6. Wenatchee, Burston (un.), 5:48; 7. Wenatchee, Harris (Bondarenko, Ahlgren), 10:54. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 15:00; Wenatchee 3 for 17:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 8-7-7—22; Wenatchee 6-10-8—24.
Goalies — Kenai River, Derks (24 shots, 19 saves); Wenatchee, Quinn (22 shots, 20 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 3; Wenatchee 0 for 5.