The Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel defeated the Kenai River Brown Bears 4-3 in overtime Friday in North American Hockey League action at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
The same two teams play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at the sports complex.
The loss leaves the Bears tied for third in the Midwest Division at 9-9-2-0 for 20 points with the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets. The Minnesota Wilderness lead with 24, while the Wisconsin Windigo have 23.
The Steel, at 9-9-0-0, are tied with the Anchorage Wolverines and Fairbanks Ice Dogs with 18 points, while the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues are last with 17 points, just seven behind the division leader.
Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw gave credit to Chippewa goalie Carter Wishart for coming up with saves when the Bears pushed hard in the second half of the game.
Wishart saved 44, while Conor Sullivan stopped 31 for the Bears.
“It just seemed like it was wave after wave we were attacking them,” Shaw said. “Their goalie was lying on his belly trying to make saves. And kudos to him. He did a good job of keeping pucks out.”
Shaw wasn’t happy with how the Bears played early.
Chippewa’s Matt Grannan scored short-handed for the lone goal of the first period.
After Marko Gieurof, on assists from Dylan Contreras and Andy Larson, tied it early in the second, Aidan Willis scored on the power play for the Steel for a 2-1 game with 14:16 left in the second period.
Peyton Platter then scored short-handed for a 3-1 lead.
“I thought we were very lackluster, just in terms of bringing the puck up,” Shaw said of the short-handed goals.
With 6:22 left in the second period, Contreras scored on the power play, assisted by Nick Stevens.
“I thought once we finally got that power-play goal in the second period, the lights came on just a little bit,” Shaw said.
Brock MacDonald, assisted by Carson Triggs and Joseph Yoon, tied the game with 7:27 left in the third period.
With 1:21 left in the five-minute overtime, Gavin Middendorf had the game-winner for the Steel.
“Both teams had chances,” Shaw said. “They scored on a breakaway after we had just almost put one in right on the doorstep.”