Friday: Bobcats take down Brown Bears

The Kenai River Brown Bears’ 4-1 loss to the Bismarck (North Dakota) Bobcats on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex can be summed up by one series of events.

Down 2-0 in the second period in front of 827 fans, the Bears were putting steady pressure in the Bobcats’ zone and had several chances to cut the lead to one goal.

But once Bismarck cleared the zone, Cullen Willox skated through two Brown Bears defensemen and popped the puck past goalie Josh Creelman with 6:06 to play for an unassisted and backbreaking play.

“That was a spectacular goal by the Willox kid but our defense did not defend that well,” Kenai River coach Geoff Beauparlant said. “We had pressure for three, four or five shifts in a row, and we had one bad mistake and it cost us.”

Willox, who had 34 points in 55 games for the Bobcats last season, made sure the Bears paid for that mistake.

“He’s a very talented guy for us,” Bismarck coach Layne Sedevie said. “He was really good last year and he’s one of the captains this year.

“You don’t always like to see the individual play but it was a nice goal.”

Beauparlant said the goal summed up an evening where the Bears played well in long stretches, but then fell victim to major mistakes. At the same time, Kenai River did not capitalize on Bismarck miscues.

“They did the right things for a lot of the game and that’s the tough part to swallow,” Beauparlant said of his squad. “That wasn’t reflected in the result.

“I don’t know that we hate to lose enough.”

The Bobcats improve to 4-5-0 and move to fourth place in the North American Hockey League Central Division, while the Bears fall to 4-7 and into last place in the Midwest Division.

With Kenai River coming off a 6-1 loss to the Minot (North Dakota) Minotauros on home ice, and Bismarck riding a three-game losing streak, both teams had heavy incentive coming into Friday’s game.

The Bobcats came out and controlled the first half of the first period, but had nothing to show for it until Evan Giesler threw the puck out front with 3:30 to play in the first and it kicked in off Creelman’s skate.

In the second period, the Bears were controlling play when a turnover in their own zone led to a 2-on-2 and a Matt Perry goal.

The Bears, who outshot the Bobcats 24-21 on the evening, continued to press their case until the Willox goal.

“We played really good in the first period and had one goal to show for it,” Sedevie said. “I thought they were better in the second period but we got all the goals.

“I don’t know how this game works sometimes.”

Beauparlant said the third goal took the wind out of the Bears’ sails. With 4:12 left in the second, Logan Rivard kept whacking at the puck on the doorstep until it went in.
“At any level, guys make a lot of money standing in front of the net and taking whacks at the puck,” Sedevie said.

Alec Derks replaced Josh Creelman in the net for the third period, but Beauparlant said it was not due to Creelman’s performance. The coach said that only one of the four goals was possibly the fault of Creelman.

Meanwhile, the Bears ruined the shutout bid of Bismarck netminder Alex Bitsakis with 5:27 to play when quick passing from Evan Butcher to Maurin Bouvet to Jack Gessert finally got the fish tossed on the ice.

“He’s been good for us all year,” Sedevie said of Bitsakis. “Early on, he kept us in it by keeping them from scoring on some grade A chances.”

The Bears and Bobcats play tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the sports complex.

 

Friday

Bobcats 4, Brown Bears 1

Bismarck 1 3 0 —4

Kenai River 0 0 1 —1

First period — 1. Bismarck, Giesler (un.), 16:30. Penalties — Bismarck 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

Second period — 2. Bismarck, Perry (Rivard), 7:54; 3. Bismarck, Willox (un.), 13:54; 4. Bismarck, Rivard (Leininger, Perry), 15:48. Penalties — none.

Third period — 5. Kenai River, Gessert (Bouvet, Butcher), 14:33. Penalties — Bismarck 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Shots on goal — Bismarck 10-4-7—21; Kenai River 11-6-7—24.

Goalies — Bismarck, Bitsakis (24 shots, 23 saves); Kenai River, Creelman (14 shots, 10 saves), Derks (7 shots, 7 saves).

Power plays — Bismarck 0 for 2; Kenai River 0 for 2.

More in Sports

Karl Danielson, a 2018 graduate of Kenai Central, races to victory in the Under-18 and over men's 10-kilometer interval start classic at Besh Cup 4 on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. The Besh Cup races are mostly used to select skiers for Junior Nationals, but also give younger and older skiers a chance for top-notch racing. It took over 50 volunteers to put together the two days of races, which had over 200 skiers each day.
Kenai grad Danielson sweeps Besh Cup weekend at Tsalteshi

Both 2018 Kenai Central graduate Karl Danielson and the Besh Cup made… Continue reading

tease
Ice Dogs sweep Brown Bears

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs got off to a solid start under new… Continue reading

tease
Hoops Roundup: Wasilla sweeps SoHi; Ninilchik boys win Cordova tourney

The visiting Wasilla boys basketball team defeated Soldotna 66-60 on Saturday in… Continue reading

Karl Danielson, a graduate of Kenai Central currently skiing for Alaska Pacific University, wins the Under-16 and over sprint at Besh Cup 3 on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai grad Danielson wins Besh 3 sprint

Karl Danielson, a 2018 graduate of Kenai Central, won the Under-16 and… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Erin Koziczkowski goes up for a shot against Nikiski on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai sweeps Nikiski Tip Off titles

The Kenai girls and boys swept the titles at the 30th Annual… Continue reading

Soldotna's Landon Stonecipher carries the puck against Homer on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, at Kevin Bell Ice Arena in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Homer, SoHi split hockey games

The Homer and Soldotna hockey teams split junior varsity games Friday and… Continue reading

tease
Kenai girls, Nikiski boys start tourney with wins

The Kenai girls, Lumen Christi girls, Bethel boys and Nikiski boys opened… Continue reading

Homer New reporter Sarah Knapp admires Alaska's beautiful landscape during a trip to Anchorage. (Photo by Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the Office: Sticking to New Year’s resolution

I’m still trying to find out where I belong in Homer. You’d… Continue reading

Ed Bangs in 1984  with the first female brown bear radio-collared on the Kenai. (Photo courtesy USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Blessed to live the Alaska dream

Note: In celebration of the Refuge’s 80th year, the Refuge Notebook articles… Continue reading

Most Read