The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate the first North American Hockey League goal of Ryan Reid (center) Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai River Brown Bears celebrate the first North American Hockey League goal of Ryan Reid (center) Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Jets take 2 tense games from Bears

The Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets took a pair of tense games from the Kenai River Brown Bears on Friday and Saturday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in North American Hockey League play.

Janesville won 2-1 on Friday, then 2-1 Saturday in a shootout. The Jets moved to 7-5-0-0, while the Brown Bears are at 7-4-0-1. Kenai River holds on to first place in the Midwest Division — by one point over the second-place Jets.

Saturday’s game, played in front of 1,476, was scoreless until Stanislav Dosek scored for Janesville with 2:32 remaining in the game.

“It was two really good hockey teams battling and not giving up a lot of ice,” Kenai River head coach Josh Petrich said. “I’m so proud of the boys.

“It was an odd goal. It deflected and went over Gavin (Enight) and nobody really saw it.”

But Eagle River’s Zach Krajnik came right back for Kenai River 40 seconds later, scoring in a scrum in front of the net.

In overtime, the Bears earned a power play and had a goal called off.

“I didn’t have a good angle so I didn’t have much to say,” Petrich said. “That happens. You have to face adversity and battle through.”

Cole Brady made 41 saves for the Jets, while Gavin Enright stopped 24 for the Bears.

“You have to give a ton of credit to Cole Brady,” Petrich said. “He saw over 70 shots in the two games and only gave up two goals.”

In the shootout, only one player scored in the round of three — Jack Vincent of the Jets, but also a former player for the Brown Bears. On March 25, 2017, the Bears beat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights in a 3-2 shootout at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. Vincent had a goal in the shootout, which came when the Bears had been deactivated and it looked like that would be the last home game in franchise history.

Vincent again came through in front of a boisterous crowd.

“It was very loud,” Petrich said. “It was an unbelievable crowd, probably one of the biggest crowds I’ve been a part of here.”

Petrich also said the crowd came through with big bucks for cancer weekend jerseys, including $1,600 for Soldotna’s Preston Weeks. Part of the money went to the Central Peninsula Health Foundation cancer care fund.

“I’m proud of the boys, but the thing I’m most proud of is the community,” Petrich said. “We raised a lot of great money.”

The Bears swept the Jets on Janesville’s home-opening weekend to start the season.

“This was just two teams battling it out,” Janesville head coach Gary Shuchuk said after Friday’s game. “We really wanted to win tonight. They swept us at home and that left a bad taste in our mouths.”

Shuchuk said victories against the Bears are tough to earn because the Bears play physical and fast, and have bought into Petrich’s system. Kenai River hasn’t been to the playoffs in four years, but Petrich said the Bears are playing that type of hockey.

“I think we played well,” Petrich said. “It was like a playoff hockey game.”

In playoff hockey, good scoring chances are tough to come by, so teams must capitalize on them.

Janesville’s goals in the first and third period were very similar. On both, a Bears defenseman tried to pinch and missed the puck, leading to an odd-man rush. On both, Logan Ommen scored for the Jets, assisted by Mason Salquist and Tommy Middleton.

“We took advantage of those opportunities,” Shuchuck said. “We had some other opportunities early and didn’t capitalize, and I thought it was going to be one of those nights where it comes back to hurt us.”

After falling behind by a goal in the first period, the Bears drew even 5 minutes, 49 seconds, into the second period when Ryan Reid had his first career NAHL goal by beating Cole Brady high and stick side. Trevor Schroder and Porter Schachle assisted.

“We tell our D to put the puck on the net to create chaos, not to shoot the puck,” Petrich said. “He did a good job. We got a little traffic in front and it went through.”

Just 1:40 into the third period, the Ommen trio got the lead back for the Jets.

Janesville and Brady, who is committed to Division I Arizona State, would then survive as the Bears won the shot count 14-4 in the final 20 minutes.

Shuchuk said Brady, who made 34 saves, likes to see the puck. He said his team did a good job of letting him do that, and Brady also fought through screens when he had to.

The Jets also blocked shots, with players crawling off the ice on two separate occasions.

“In a game like this, sometimes you have to sacrifice,” Shuchuk said. “We made some mistakes in coverage, and we were able to cover them up.”

The Bears came hardest in the last five minutes, particularly after pulling the goalie with 1:53 to play.

“We brought everything we could at the end,” Petrich said. “Like I said coming in, they have great leadership and coaching. They’re not a team you can sleep on, and we didn’t.”

Dennis Westergard made 21 saves for the Bears.

The Bears are on the road Friday and Saturday against the Topeka (Kansas) Pilots.

Friday

Jets 2, Brown Bears 1

Janesville 1 0 1 — 2

Kenai River 0 1 0 — 1

First period — 1. Janesville, Ommen (Salquist, Middleton), 16:19. Penalties — Janesville 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Second period — 2. Kenai River, Reid (Schroder, Schachle), 5:49. Penalties — Janesville 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Third period — 3. Janesville, Ommen (Salquist, Middleton), 1:40. Penalties — Janesville 3 for 6:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Shots on goal — Janesville 9-10-4—23; Kenai River 9-12-14—35.

Goalies — Janesville, Brady (35 shots, 34 saves); Kenai River, Westergard (23 shots, 21 saves).

Power plays — Janesville 0 for 2; Kenai River 0 for 4.

Saturday

Jets 2, Brown Bears 1, SO

Janesville 0 0 1 0 1 — 2

Kenai River 0 0 1 0 0 — 1

First period — none. Penalties — Janesville 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Second period — none. Penalties — Janesville 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

Third period — 1. Janesville, Dosek (un.), 17:28. 2. Kenai River, Krajnik (Karlsson), 18:08. Penalties — Janesville 5 for 26:00; Kenai River 2 for 14:00.

Overtime — none. Penalties — Janesville 1 for 2:00.

Shootout — Janesville 1 (Hanewall NG, Vincent G, Maclaren NG); Kenai River 0 (Krajnik NG, Karlsson NG, A. Walker NG).

Shots on goal — Janesville 10-5-7-2—25; Kenai River 12-16-11-3—42.

Goalies — Janesville, Brady (42 shots, 41 saves); Kenai River, Enright (25 shots, 24 saves).

Power plays — Janesville 0 for 2; Kenai River 0 for 4.

Stanislav Dosek and Mason Salquist of the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets and Logan Ritchie and Justin Daly of the Brown Bears work to gain possession of the puck Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Stanislav Dosek and Mason Salquist of the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets and Logan Ritchie and Justin Daly of the Brown Bears work to gain possession of the puck Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Sutton McDonald tries to push the puck in front of the net against the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Sutton McDonald tries to push the puck in front of the net against the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets on Friday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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