A failure to convert opportunities cost the Kenai River Brown Bears in a 4-1 North American Hockey League loss on the road against the Aston (Pennsylvania) Rebels on Friday.
Meanwhile, Aston took full advantage of its opportunities when the ice was tilted in its favor, scoring three goals in the second period in 3 minutes, 25 seconds, to take control of the game.
“We’ve often talked about the problem being in our defensive zone or with our focus and a letdown, but tonight I felt we lost due to an inability to capitalize on chances,” Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant said.
The Bears fall to 1-27-1 and have gone a franchise-high 26 games without a win. Aston moves to 18-10-0.
Beauparlant said Aston came out strong at home, but the Bears weathered the storm and turned the game in their favor.
Cameron Cook, assisted by Jack Gessert and Joey Sardina, gave the Bears a 1-0 lead with just a second left in the first period.
Beauparlant said the Bears took the momentum from that goal and ran with it, getting a five-on-three power play 4:26 into the second period.
The coach said the Bears did just what they were supposed to and got three Grade A chances, but couldn’t finish.
“If we could have made it 2-0 there, it could have been a different result,” Beauparlant said.
Instead, Aston used the momentum from that kill to notch goals by Dean Balsamo, Brennan Kapcheck and Frank Spellman — a former Brown Bears player — before the end of the second. Kristofers Bindulis added a goal 6:35 into the third period.
“Give them credit,” Beauparlant said. “They found ways to capitalize on our mistakes.”
The coach said Nick Nast had a great game, making 40 saves while Aston netminder Darion Hanson had 24.
Beauparlant added the line of Adam Kresl, Bayley Marshall and Collin Appleton was very good, as was Sardina. The coach added that Gessert was also missed when Aston was going on its second-period spurt. Gessert was sidelined with a broken skate.
Beauparlant said defensemen Jeff Fasegha and Seyia Hayata are close to returning from injury. He added that forward Nick Klishko is expected to join the team when it returns home in mid-January. Klishko has been out all season with an injury.
Rebels 4, Brown Bears 1
Kenai River 1 0 0 —1
Aston 0 3 1 —4
First period — 1. Kenai River, Cook (Gessert, Sardina), 19:59. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Aston 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Aston, Balsamo (Miettuten, Bellant), 13:35; 3. Aston, Kapcheck (Balsamo, Spellman), 15:57; 4. Aston, Spellman (Bellant, Kapcheck), 17:00. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Aston 4 for 8:00.
Third period — 5. Aston, Bindulis (Solomon, Balsamo), pp, 6:35. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Aston 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 9-11-5—25; Aston 10-20-14—44.
Goalies — Kenai River, Nast (44 shots, 40 saves); Aston, Hanson (25 shots, 24 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 3; Aston 1 for 3.