The visiting Kenai River Brown Bears were swept decisively by the Wisconsin Windigo on Friday and Saturday in North American Hockey League action.
The Brown Bears lost 9-2 on Friday and 10-3 on Saturday.
“We clearly were not prepared for the weekend at all,” Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said. “It’s a pivotal point in the year because it’s our last weekend before going to Alaska.
“To not be ready to play won’t work. It’s on me for the guys not being ready.”
The Brown Bears return to Alaska to play at the Anchorage Wolverines on Friday at 7 p.m., then play the Wolverines in the home opener at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s a fresh start,” Shaw said. “It’ll be nice to be home in front of our fans and be back in the community.”
The Midwest Division was tight all last season. This year has been no different, with the top seven teams within four points of each other.
The Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets lead with 12, while the Brown Bears (5-4-0-0) and the Windigo (5-3-0-0) each have 10 points.
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs have nine points, while the Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel, Wolverines and Minnesota Wilderness have eight points. The Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues have two points.
Friday, the Bears actually had a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period on a goal by Dylan Contreras, assisted by Cade Baker and Jacob Margarit.
Maxwell Martin, Drew Fisher and Will Schumacher scored in the second period to put the Windigo up 3-1, but Nick Stevens, assisted by Kotaro Tsutsumi and Jackson Ebbott, had it 3-2 with 18:35 left in the game.
Schumacher then struck twice for his hat trick. Zachary Cline would score twice down the stretch for Wisconsin, while Daniil Dolzhenko and Adam Timm added strikes.
Lindards Lipskis saved 22 for the Windigo. For the Bears, Peter Wickstrom Stumer had 33 saves on 27 shots and Conor Sullivan had five saves on seven shots.
Saturday, Schumacher put the Windigo up 1-0, but Carson Triggs, on assists from Roope Tuomioksa and Tiziano Pauchard, tied it with 15:45 left in the first.
Erick Comstock and Everett Pietila scored for Wisconsin, but Contreras, assisted by Tuomioksa and Joel Hanson, had it at 3-2 headed to the second period.
Wisconsin dominated the second period, with Martin, Schumacher, Mario DiMaggio and Braden Beahm scoring.
In the third, Schumacher had a pair of goals to give him four for the game and seven for the weekend. Tyler Grahme also scored for Wisconsin.
Baker, assisted by Stevens and Contreras, scored in the third for Kenai River.
Lipskis made 33 saves for the Windigo, while Conor Sullivan had 20 saves on 27 shots, and Peter Wickstrom Stumer had 13 saves on 16 shots, for the Bears.