Even after loss, Bears still control destiny

After a 5-1 loss to the host Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Friday, the Kenai River Brown Bears are still in control of their fate in the playoff chase.

Before the Bears took the ice Friday, the host Coulee Region (Wis.) Chill was losing 3-2 to the Minnesota Wilderness in a shootout — the sixth-straight loss for the Chill.

That shootout loss left the Chill with 63 points, one point behind Kenai River (28-23-8).

Both the Chill and Bears have one game remaining, and neither can catch the Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild for the third spot anymore after the Wild lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Aberdeen (S.D.) Wings on Friday.

The Bears drop the puck with the Ice Dogs tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.

Win, and the Bears are in the playoffs. Lose, and all eyes will be on the game between the Minnesota Magicians and Chill at 2 p.m. ADT Sunday. All the Chill, who are 7-4 this season against the Magicians, need to do to make the playoffs is tie the Bears in the points column since Coulee Region has the tiebreaker.

“There was a little bit of disappointment in how we didn’t finish around their net, and it was a disappointing loss, but their spirits turned quickly,” Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant said. “They know they have another shot tomorrow and all you can ask is to control your own destiny.

“We have to come ready to play, have good preparation, and put all our chips in the middle.”

The Bears had 10 points in seven games coming into Friday’s contest, but Fairbanks, which has clinched the league’s best record, responded before a crowd of 2,242 after yielding three points  in two games to the Bears last weekend.

Beauparlant said the Bears had the better of the chances early in the game, and not capitalizing came back to haunt them.

“We had chances,” Beauparlant said. “We had two power plays, two breakaways and a couple two-on-ones.

“If we capitalize on those, it’s a completely different story.”

Beauparlant said the momentum turned on a power-play goal by Brett Gervais with 9 minutes, 47 seconds, left in the first period.

The Kenai River coach said Fairbanks had the better of the chances from that point forward. Tayler Munson had the lone goal of the second period to put the Dogs up 2-0.

Beauparlant said Fairbanks goalie Kevin Aldridge had two big saves in a 3-on-2 rush late in the second period.

“That really could have changed the momentum going into the third,” Beauparlant said.

The Ice Dogs kept rolling with goals by Lonnie Clary and Johnny Mueller in the first 1:15 of the third.

“That was the backbreaker,” Beauparlant said. “I give the guys credit. They didn’t fold like they did a month and a half ago.”

Nathan Colwell, on assists from Zack Zulkanycz and Christian Luiten, scored with 15:47 left, but the second power-play goal of the game by Gervais sewed things up with 4:49 to play.

Beauparlant said Colwell came back with a good game after sitting last weekend.

“The consistency wasn’t there in the execution, the physical play and the compete level,” Beauparlant said, adding it was nice to see 15 to 20 people make the trip north to support the Bears. “When you don’t have that, a team like Fairbanks is going to capitalize when you give them the opportunities we gave them.”

Zach Quinn had 23 saves for the Bears, while Kevin Aldridge had 27 saves for Fairbanks.

 

Friday

Ice Dogs 5, Brown Bears 1

Kenai River001—1

Fairbanks113—5

First period — 1. Fairbanks, Gervais (Clary, Lagrone), pp, 10:13. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Fairbanks 2 for 4:00.

Second period — 2. Fairbanks, Munson (Burgess), 17:21. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Third period — 3. Fairbanks, Clary (Vedel, Gervais), 1:06; 4. Fairbanks, Mueller (Olsson), 1:15; 5. Kenai River, Colwell (Zulkanycz, Luiten), 4:13; 6. Fairbanks, Gervais (Vedel, Bushey), 15:11. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 7:00; Fairbanks 2 for 7:00.

Shots on goal — Kenai River 7-12-9—28; Fairbanks 7-13-8—28.

Goalies — Kenai River, Quinn (28 shots, 23 saves); Fairbanks, Aldridge (28 shots, 27 saves).

Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 3; Fairbanks 2 for 3.

More in Sports

Homer senior Madison Story swims the breaststroke in the girls 200-yard IM on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020 during the Kenai Peninsula Swimming Championships at the Kate Kuhns Aquatic Center in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Homer’s Story stars at state club meet

Homer senior Madison Story won two individual titles Saturday at the Alaska… Continue reading

Moose are seen eating on the shoulder of Kenai Spur Highway on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the Office: Into the office

An ode to Kenai Spur Highway

A snowshoe hare in its white winter coat. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Refuge Notebook: The verge of winter

As the daylight hours seem to slip away, the temperatures are slowly… Continue reading

Soldotna High School head football coach Galen Brantley Jr. poses with former players Galen Brantley III and Aaron Faletoi. Brantley III and Faletoi helped Dickinson State in Dickinson, South Dakota, to an undefeated regular season. (Photo provided by Galen Brantley Jr.)
Brantley III, Faletoi help Dickinson State to undefeated regular season

Galen Brantley III and Aaron Faletoi, 2020 graduates of Soldotna High School,… Continue reading

Seward’s Lydia Jacoby races to victory in the girls 100-yard breaststroke final Oct. 27, 2018, at the Northern Lights Conference championship swim meet at Homer High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward’s Jacoby takes 2nd at national swim meet

Seward junior Lydia Jacoby, just 16, finished second in the 100-meter breaststroke… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Theo Thrun brings the puck up the ice on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019, against the Minnesota Magicians at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears split weekend games with Steel

The Kenai River Brown Bears split a pair of North American Hockey… Continue reading

Kenai’s Rachael Pitsch swims the girls 500-yard freestyle on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020 during the Kenai Peninsula Swimming Championships at the Kate Kuhns Aquatic Center in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Homer girls, Kenai boys win swim meet

In their last competitive event of the season, the Homer girls swim… Continue reading

tease
CIA volleyball splits matches at Lumen

Staff report The Cook Inlet Academy volleyball team finished up its regular… Continue reading

wrestle
Ninilchik grad Vanderford moves to 10-0 in MMA

Austin Vanderford, a 2008 graduate of Ninilchik School, moved to 10-0 in… Continue reading

The author is seen here skiing a little easier at Trail Lake near Seward. (Photo provided by Kat Sorensen)
Tangled Up in Blue: Grooming the trail

During my first winter spent cross-country skiing in Soldotna, I often found… Continue reading

Basic Incident Command System organization chart. The ICS system has been used for many different types of incidents since its inception. (Chart from Federal Emergency Management Agency)
Refuge Notebook: Incident Command System adapts to record-setting wildfires

The August Complex Fire of 2020 on the Mendocino National Forest in… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Brandon Lajoie pulls up against the Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears topple Steel again

The Kenai River Brown Bears moved to 2-0-0-0 in the North American… Continue reading