The Kenai River Brown Bears snapped a two-game losing streak by defeating the Wisconsin Windigo 2-1 in overtime Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in North American Hockey League play.
The Bears moved to 3-1 in overtimes this season just 56 seconds into the extra period, when Kotaro Tsutsumi, who is from Tokyo, Japan, scored on assists from Anchorage skaters Bryce Monrean and Caleb Huffman.
The victory keeps the Bears on top of the Midwest Division with a 10-4-1-0 record. The Windigo, who had won two of three coming into the game, fell to 4-8-1-0 and are in last place in the division.
The same two teams play tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the sports complex.
Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw has said all season there are no easy nights in the division. Friday showed that again as the Bears claimed their third one-goal victory over the Windigo this season.
“There’s no easy night here in the league,” Shaw said. “We have to find a way to start putting teams away when we have a lead going to the third.”
In front of a crowded house that was announced at 1,796, the Bears took the lead in the first period when Jack Anderson got the puck from down low and snapped a shot at the goal. Kenai River had two in front to screen and the puck went cleanly in the net. Hunter Newhouse and Tsutsumi were credited with assists.
“It was nice to get a goal in the first period,” Shaw said. “Unfortunately, we then got into penalty trouble and that’s been a problem as of late.
“We got through it. That was a tough one to give up in the third, but we got the extra point and we’ll take it.”
Shaw said the Bears weren’t always in the box, but were in the box enough to break up any rhythm.
With 10:53 left in the game, Ryan Berglund tied it for Wisconsin by scoring on the power play.
In overtime, Tsutsumi poked the puck away from Wisconsin, then scored on a breakaway with his backhand.
Wasilla’s Bryant Marks made 24 saves for the Bears, while Maxwell Beckford stopped 38 for the Windigo. Marks’ goals-against average dropped to 1.80 per game, putting him at sixth in the league.
“I thought he played well,” Shaw said of Marks. “He made the saves he needed to make.”
Brown Bears 2, Windigo 1, OT
Wisconsin 0 0 1 0 —1
Kenai River 1 0 0 1 —2
First period — 1. Kenai River, J. Anderson (Newhouse, Tsutsumi), 6:06. Penalties — Wisconsin 3 for 6:00; Kenai River 3 for 9:00.
Second period — none. Penalties — Wisconsin 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 2 for 22:00.
Third period — 2. Wisconsin, Berglund (Mickel, Beckford), pp, 9:07. Penalties — Wisconsin 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Overtime — 3. Tsutsumi (Monrean, Huffman), 0:56. Penalties — none.
Shots on goal — Wisconsin 11-10-4-0—25; Kenai River 9-10-20-1—40.
Goalies — Wisconsin, Beckford (40 shots, 38 saves); Kenai River, Marks (25 shots, 24 saves).