Kenai River Brown Bears forward Caden Triggs carries the puck against Anchorage Wolverines defenseman Campbell Cichosz on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Caden Triggs carries the puck against Anchorage Wolverines defenseman Campbell Cichosz on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Brown Bears to host 1st place Jr. Blues

The current stretch of the schedule for the Kenai River Brown Bears is all about the Anchorage Wolverines and Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues.

The Bears just concluded a pair of two-game series with the Wolverines, going 1-3. Kenai River now hosts Springfield at 7 p.m. today at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. The three-game series concludes with 7:30 p.m. games Friday and Saturday.

Kenai River then plays Anchorage four more times, Dec. 3 and 4 at home and Dec. 10 and 11 on the road, before playing the Jr. Blues in Illinois on Dec. 16, 17 and 18.

“This weekend is going to be a big-time challenge,” Kenai River head coach Josh Dubinsky said. “They’re a team that’s kind of surprised everybody in the same way Anchorage has.

“They didn’t play last year because of COVID but have come back from that year off.”

The Jr. Blues are currently tied for first place in the Midwest Division with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, both at 13-7-0-1. The Wolverines, in their first year as a team, are in third place at 12-5-1-0.

The Brown Bears, at 3-16-0-0, are in last place in the Midwest, so getting points out of the upcoming 10 games against the Jr. Blues and Wolverines is critical.

Despite the record and losing Friday and Saturday in Anchorage, Dubinsky said the team is headed in the right direction after making a bunch of roster changes since the start of the season.

“I still think, even though we didn’t win either of the games (last weekend), we’re still trending in the right direction,” Dubinsky said. “Last weekend, part of the problem was adjusting to the significantly smaller ice.

“We’re excited to get back home and end the first third of the season on a decent note.”

Dubinsky said the team needs more balanced scoring to start winning. Cole Dubicki leads the team with seven goals and nine assists in 19 games, while David Vieten has seven goals and six assists in 19 games.

“Those guys have done extremely well and that’s something we’re happy about,” Dubinsky said. “We do need a little more depth in scoring. I think we have guys trending in the right direction acclimating to the pace and speed of the league.”

Dubicki and Vieten are the only Bears players in double figures for points. Contrast that with Springfield, which has six players in double figures.

Dubinsky also is happy to get defenseman Luke Anderson back from injury for this weekend. The coach said the Bears are short on defensemen with right-handed shots right now. Anderson has a right-handed shot.

Anderson has been limited to 10 games for the Bears this season due to injury.

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