The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate after a goal scored by Roope Tuomioksa at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Jan. 25, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate after a goal scored by Roope Tuomioksa at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Jan. 25, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Friday: Brown Bears fall to Wolverines

The Kenai River Brown Bears took their 10th consecutive loss Friday when they fell 2-1 to the Anchorage Wolverines in North American Hockey League play at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. The Bears’ last win was against the Wolverines on Dec. 2.

At the start of the game, the Brown Bears reliably kept the pressure on the opposing side of the rink — Bears goalie Conor Sulivan only had to fend off four total shots in the first period compared to 17 made against the Wolverines’ Liam Beerman.

With just under 12 minutes left in the first period, Kenai River’s Roope Tuomioksa put a puck in the net off assists from Dylan Contreras and Luke Hause during a power play. That was the only goal scored in the first period and the only goal scored by the Brown Bears in the game.

In the second period, Anchorage’s Artem Shchipanov and Romulus Riego De Dios both landed goals for the Wolverines within three minutes — at 11:03 and 8:06 — creating an advantage to which the Brown Bears never managed to respond.

No goals were scored in the third period, despite several power-play opportunities for Anchorage. Anchorage was 0 for 5 on the power play, while Kenai River was 1 for 4.

“We won the special teams battle, we didn’t win the hockey game,” Brown Bears coach Taylor Shaw said after the loss.

He said the team had opportunities Friday. He said the Bears are putting in the effort, but they just need to get the puck in the net. Coming off the 10 losses, he said the players have to turn the page.

“How do we expect to get out of it if we just sit in it?” he said. “We’ve got 20 games left to go, we gotta think we’re going to get one here in the next few.”

There were several big fights during the game — leaving, as Shaw said, “blood on the ice.” Shaw said he was proud to see the way the crowd got behind the players and the way the players stuck up for one another.

During the break between the first and second periods, the Brown Bears were joined by dozens of young players from the Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association — after the game the Bears milled about to meet attendees and offer autographs.

“Even not winning hockey games right now, they’re still showing up for the community,” Shaw said. “I think that’s important.”

The Brown Bears will play the Wolverines again on Saturday in Anchorage’s Ben Boeke Ice Arena at 7:00 p.m. before traveling to the Lower 48 to play the Chippewa Steel and the Minnesota Wilderness. Their next home game will be Feb. 16, again against the Anchorage Wolverines, 7:30 p.m. at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Kenai River’s Luke Hause moves with the puck at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Jan. 25, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River’s Luke Hause moves with the puck at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Jan. 25, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River’s Tiziano Pauchard and Anchorage’s Luke Anderson battle for the puck at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Jan. 25, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River’s Tiziano Pauchard and Anchorage’s Luke Anderson battle for the puck at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Jan. 25, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River’s Carter McCormick checks Anchorage’s Christian Theberge away from the puck at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Jan. 25, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River’s Carter McCormick checks Anchorage’s Christian Theberge away from the puck at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Jan. 25, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Anchorage’s Jack Darby works to keep the puck from Kenai River’s Luke Hause at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Jan. 25, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Anchorage’s Jack Darby works to keep the puck from Kenai River’s Luke Hause at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Jan. 25, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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