Brown Bears take 4 points on weekend

The visiting Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the Springfield Jr. Blues 4-1 on Friday and 3-2 in overtime on Saturday in North American Hockey League play.

The Bears improve to 5-2-0-0 while the Jr. Blues fall to 0-5-1-0. Kenai River is in second place in the Midwest Division, just two points out of first, while the Jr. Blues are in last place.

Kenai River stays on the road to face the Wisconsin Windigo on Friday and Saturday at 4 p.m. AKDT.

“We’ll certainly take the four (points) and get out of town,” Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said. “I didn’t think we were very good all weekend, to be honest.

“We still found a way to win, so there’s some credit there, but we’ve got to get back to work as a group in the coming week.”

Shaw said the Bears want their identity to be managing the puck and playing fast, and the head coach didn’t think either was done very well Friday or Saturday.

Friday, Kenai River fell behind 1-0 in the game before scoring four unanswered goals for the win. The Bears won the shot count 39-22.

With 5:47 left in the first period, Isaac Keller put Springfield up 1-0, but Hayden Walters scored unassisted for Kenai River to knot it heading into the second period.

In the second period, Kenai River’s Peter Wickstrom Stumer, who had 21 saves, and Springfield’s JJ Cataldo, who had 36 saves, both kept the puck out of the net.

With 12:59 left in the third, Andy Larson scored unassisted to give Kenai River the lead.

Nick Stevens then scored unassisted on the power play with 8:31 left for a cushion, and Tiziano Pauchard, unassisted, scored on the empty net with a minute left to salt away the victory.

Saturday, Springfield went up 1-0 in the second period on a goal by Zach Howard, but Marko Giourof answered for Kenai River to send the game to the third period tied.

With 14:30 left in the game, Cade Baker put the Bears up 2-1. But Niko Laus scored with 4:11 left for the Jr. Blues.

Kenai River’s weakness thus far in the season has been giving up crucial goals late in the game.

“We were up 2-1 in the third period and we gave up a goal in the last four minutes again,” Shaw said.

The Bears got a power play with 1:58 left in overtime, and Larson scored the game-winner again with 1:15 left.

Conor Sullivan got the win in net, with no official save count available.

“I thought they were both good,” Shaw said of the goalies on the weekend. “We didn’t ask them to do a lot, but they were good.”

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