Brown Bears topple Steel

The visiting Kenai River Brown Bears notched a 5-3 victory Thursday against the Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel in North American Hockey League action.

The Bears improve to 17-12-1-0 and move to second in the Midwest Division, two points out of first. The Steel, at 16-11-1-1, are in third in the division. The same two teams play at 4 p.m. AKST today.

“I think it was a big character win for the group,” Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said. “There were a bunch of opportunities and the guys seized it with both hands.”

The Bears were short three players. Caleb Huffman has left the team to join Division I University of Alaska Anchorage. Owen Hanson has joined the Fargo (North Dakota) Force of the United States Hockey League, a Tier I league compared to the Tier II NAHL.

Also, Kotaro Tsutsumi is playing for Japan at World Juniors and will return to the Bears for the new year.

“It further cements the organization is going in the right direction that these things are continuing to happen,” Shaw said. “If we continue to do a good job in that part of the ladder of development, players will keep getting opportunities.”

Shaw said the Bears had just 11 forwards and six defensemen for the game. Normally, the team goes with 12 forwards and seven defensemen, or 13 forwards and six defensemen.

The coach said the Bears were able to win by doing the little things right and taking advantage of opportunities. Kenai River also held Chippewa to 1 of 7 on the power play.

Hayden Walters, assisted by Luke Hause and Kenai’s Parker Lockwood, opened the scoring before Sam Frandina answered for the Steel. Ryan Finch, assisted by Joe Manning and Garett Drotts, and Casper Conradsson Kelvgaard on the power play, assisted by Ryan Finch, then put the Bears up 3-1. Peyton Platter scored just seven seconds later to make it 3-2 headed to the second period.

The Bears left the second leading 5-2 when Drotts, assisted by Noah Holt and Manning, and Hunter Newhouse, assisted by Bryce Monrean and Luke Hause, both scored.

Matthew Brille scored in the third for the Steel.

Nils Wallstrom had 44 saves for the Bears, while Carter Wishart stopped 16 for the Steel.

“Nils played outstanding,” Shaw said.

Shaw also said Carter McCormick, an affiliate player and tender for the Bears, had a solid game, winning a key faceoff late.


Brown Bears 5, Steel 3

Kenai River 3 2 0 —5

Chippewa 2 0 1 —3

First period — 1. Kenai River, Walters (Hause, Lockwood), 7:05; 2. Chippewa, Frandina (Ramsey, Platter), pp, 10:56; 3. Kenai River, Finch (Manning, Drotts), 12:03; 4. Kenai River, Conradsson Kelvgaard (Finch), pp, 18:18; 5. Chippewa, Platter (Lago), 18:25. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Chippewa 1 for 2:00.

Second period — 6. Kenai River, Drotts (Holt, Manning), 8:55; 7. Kenai River, Newhouse (Monrean, Hause), 15:39. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

Third period — 8. Chippewa, Brille (Rice), 12:25. Penalties — Kenai River 5 for 28:00; Chippewa 3 for 6:00.

Shots on goal — Kenai River 10-9-2—21; Chippewa 15-19-13—47.

Goalies — Kenai River, Wallstrom (47 shots, 44 saves); Chippewa, Wishart (21 shots, 16 saves).

Power plays — Kenai River 1 for 3; Chippewa 1 for 7.

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