The Kenai River Brown Bears came back from a one-goal deficit twice on the road in a 3-2 victory over the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues on Friday in North American Hockey League play.
The Bears won their fourth straight Midwest Division game on the road to improve to 7-3-0-0 and drop the Jr. Blues to 3-4-0-0. Kenai River is tied for second place in the Midwest Division.
“I don’t think that was our best effort in the first period, but as the game went on, we continued to get better and better,” Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said. “That’s all you can ask for.
“I thought Nils played well.”
Nils Wallstrom made 37 saves and has been in net for the four-game winning streak. Aksel Reid stopped 32 for the Jr. Blues.
Springfield left the first period with a 1-0 lead on a Tyler Borgula power-play goal, but Garrett Drotts, assisted by Noah Holt, answered on the power play in the second.
Just 56 seconds into the third period, Cole Lonsdale put the Jr. Blues up 2-1.
“Certainly, in the back half of the third period we had a lot of momentum going,” Shaw said. “We got back to the little things.”
With 11:27 left, Holt, assisted by Hayden Walters, scored to tie it. Holt is from Brookville, Ohio, and was traded from Springfield to Kenai River last season.
“Holt got rewarded,” Shaw said. “He’s an Ohio boy. He had a whole crew there, so it was good.”
With 4:16 to play, Nick Stevens got the puck back using pressure. He got it to Carson Triggs, who fed it to Jack Anderson, who found Kotaro Tsutsumi for the game-winner, though Stevens was officially credited with the assist.
The Bears then had to kill off a power play for the last 54 seconds for the victory.
Kenai River plays at 3:05 p.m. AKDT Saturday and 1 p.m. AKDT Sunday at Springfield.
Brown Bears 3, Jr. Blues 2
Kenai River 0 1 2 —3
Springfield 1 0 1 —2
First period — 1. Springfield, Borgula (Gadowsky, Lonsdale), pp, 18:20. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Kenai River, Drotts (Holt), pp, 11:43. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 15:00; Springfield 5 for 21:00.
Third period — 3. Springfield, Lonsdale (Nikora), 0:56; 4. Kenai River, Holt (Walters), 8:33; 5. Kenai River, Tsutsumi (Stevens), 15:44. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 13-10-12—35; Springfield 12-12-15—39.
Goalies — Kenai River, Wallstrom (39 shots, 37 saves); Springfield, Reid (35 shots, 32 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 1 for 3; Springfield 1 for 3.