All it took for the Kenai River Brown Bears to officially cast away the memories of their league-worst record in the North American Hockey League from a year ago was a little fighting, and Swedish forward Jonas Warman was up to the task.
Warman sparked the Brown Bears to a 2-1 overtime victory over the Northeast Generals of Attleboro, Massachusetts, Friday night. Kenai River coach Jeff Worlton credited Warman for raising the intensity level of the game when he broke out the fisticuffs with Generals defender Kyle Martin in the latter stages of the opening period.
“The momentum swing is what helped jumpstart our team,” Worlton said. “The effort was there, the intensity level was good, and their goalie played exceptionally well.”
Ultimately, it was Christopher Lipe that slotted in the game-winning goal three minutes into overtime, giving the Bears four wins in their last six games and their first overtime win of the year.
“We’re always happy to get a win, and no win is bigger than any other,” Worlton said.
Additionally, Kenai River boosted its NAHL season record to 5-18-2, one game victory ahead of last year’s pace, a season that ended up 4-51-5 for the Bears. The squad remained last place in the Midwest division with 12 points. Janesville (Wisconsin) leads the division with 42.
Robbie Goor played exceptional in net for Kenai River, stopping 32 of 33 shots on goal to earn the win.
The Generals remained the only winless team in the NAHL this season at 0-22-3.
After Warman’s antics in the scoreless first period left both teams with 15 penalty minutes each, Tyler Rock scored on the power play halfway through the second frame to put Kenai River ahead, but the lead did not hold up long. A defensive breakdown in front of the net allowed a Northeast goal from Cameron Smith, tying it up at one apiece.
Another 20 minutes of scoreless third-period hockey, overtime was needed. Following a save by Goor, Jordan Holmes sent the puck to Lucas Carroll, who skated up the ice on a rush and was joined by Lipe, who scored on a shot on his glove side.
“I felt we controlled the puck (in overtime), had composure and we were relaxed,” Worlton said. “We didn’t force the play, we controlled the puck.”
The Bears and Generals will drop the puck again Saturday at 3:30 p.m. AST.
Brown Bears 2, Generals 1
Kenai River 0 1 0 1 —2
Northeast 0 1 0 0 —1
1st period — no scoring. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 15:00; Northeast 4 for 19:00.
2nd period — 1. Kenai River, Rock (Lipe, Radetic), PP, 11:27; 2. Northeast, Smith (Anosau, Hartje), 13:23. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Northeast 2 for 4:00.
3rd period — no scoring. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Northeast 1 for 2:00.
Overtime — 3. Kenai River, Lipe (Carroll, Holmes), 3:04.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 15-12-13-2—42; Northeast 8-10-14-1—33.
Goalies — Kenai River, Goor (33 shots, 32 saves); Northeast, Vinal (42 shots, 40 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 1 for 1; Northeast 0 for 0.