The Kenai River Brown Bears may be out of the playoff chase, but not much changed with the team Friday in Minot, North Dakota.
Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant said he still got a solid effort out of his club, but the Bears lost 2-1 to the Minotauros.
“I was just talking to (defenseman) Gustav Berglund and he said, ‘Coach, it’s just not our year,'” Beauparlant said. “These are the types of games we won last year and we’re not finding a way to win this year.
“The margin of error is so thin in this league.”
The Bears are 14-39-2 and have lost their last five, three of those coming by one goal. Minot (33-14-6) has a playoff spot locked up and is in second place in the North American Hockey League Central Division.
“We’re playing for pride and the buddy next to you,” Beauparlant said. “The guys who are going to be here next year are competing for position on the team and the guys moving on are trying to find ways to get committed.
“There’s a lot to be motivated for.”
Nick Monfils scored just 17 seconds into the game for Minot, as the Bears missed a coverage in the neutral zone.
But just 45 seconds later, the Minotauros didn’t pick up Quinton Wunder in the high slot and Adam Kresl found him for a tie game.
“They scored on their first shot and we scored on our first shot,” Beauparlant said. “I don’t know the last time I’ve seen that.”
After that goaltenders Evan Hauser of the Bears (30 saves) and Atte Tolvanen of the Minotauros (30 saves) settled in.
“They controlled play in the first, we controlled play in the second, and I thought the third was pretty even,” Beauparlant said.
Chase Springman bagged the winning goal with 5:08 to play right off a faceoff.
Beauparlant said the goal went five-hole, and Hauser probably would have liked it back, but he said the defenseman got caught on the wrong side and had improper stick position.
“It was a great team effort and I thought everyone competed hard,” Beauparlant said. “We’ll make some changes in the lineup and get different guys and some fresh legs in the lineup and be ready when the puck drops again.”
Tanner DuFault, an affiliate player, got his first action with the team and Beauparlant said he teamed with Nick Klishko and Tanner Schachle to form a solid line.
The Bears and Minotauros play again Saturday at 5:05 p.m. ADT.
Minotauros 2, Brown Bears 1
Kenai River 1 0 0 —1
Minot 1 0 1 —2
First period — 1. Minot, Monfils (Snodgrass, Davison), 0:17; 2. Kenai River, Wunder (Kresl, Rudin), 1:02. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Minot 1 for 2:00.
Second period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Minot 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 3. Minot, Springman (Degler), 14:52. Penalties — none.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 8-15-8—31; Minot 16-11-5—32.
Goalies — Kenai River, Hauser (32 shots, 30 saves); Minot, Tolvanen (31 shots, 30 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 2; Minot 0 for 1.