The Kenai River Brown Bears saw their losing streak reach 16 after dropping a pair of games on the road to the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues on Friday and Saturday.
The Bears fell 4-0 on Friday and 4-1 on Saturday.
Kenai River is now 3-47-3, while Springfield moves to 27-19-6 and has a five-point lead over the Coulee Region (Wisconsin) Chill for the final playoff slot out of the Midwest Division.
After not being pleased with his team’s effort on Friday, Kenai River head coach Jeff Worlton said the effort was better Saturday.
“We played a lot harder than we did yesterday,” Worlton said. “We had to overcome some penalties and it was too tough to overcome.
“We played better, but we can’t get over the hump now.”
Friday, Worlton said the Bears had some inconveniences happen on the road trip, and his team took those built-in excuses and ran with them.
“Losers make excuses. Winners find a way to get it done,” Worlton said. “Excuses are not something I have time for. The players have to come to work every day, and that’s something we’re trying to teach.”
The final shot count was ugly Friday, with Springfield winning the first 15-2, the second 17-0 and getting edged in the third 9-7 en route to a 39-11 advantage.
Worlton said the official shot count for his club in the first two periods was not accurate.
Brady Tomiak scored for the Blues in the first period, then Springfield led 3-0 after two when Brennan Blaszczak and Tomiak scored, with Tomiak’s coming on the power play.
A power-play tally in the third period by Josh Bell finished off the Bears.
Kenai River goalie Magnus Lindhe continued a solid string of play for the Bears by making 39 shots on 35 saves. Worlton said none of the goals were Lindhe’s fault.
Lindhe came with Worlton from the Tier III Breezy Point (Minnesota) North Stars and has been proving he can play in the Tier II NAHL.
“The thing that makes him do well, I’m not saying he’s the best technical goalie, but he just competes, works very hard and he’s passionate about winning,” Worlton said. “He takes losses personal.”
Saturday, Springfield led 1-0 after one thanks to Bell and 2-0 after two thanks to Jeff Skinner. Tomiak and Isaac Ceh then put the Blues up 4-0 in the third.
With 14:21 left, Evan Butcher led the Bears avoid the weekend shutout when he scored on the power play on assists from Jake Hartje and Jordan Hank.
Lindhe had 43 saves for the Bears, while Niko Della Maggorie stopped 23 for the Blues.
Worlton said special teams was a bright spot Saturday, with the Bears going 1 for 2 with the extra man and Springfield finishing 0 for 4.
Kenai River has just seven games left, with the next four at home and the last three in Fairbanks.
The homestand starts Friday and Saturday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex with 7:30 p.m. games against the New Jersey Titans.
Jr. Blues 4, Brown Bears 0
Kenai River 0 0 0 —0
Springfield 1 2 1 —4
First period — 1. Springfield, Tomiak (Skinner), 10:45. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Springfield 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Springfield, Blaszczak (Long, Meeh), 6:10; 3. Springfield, Tomiak (Fear, Balszczak), pp, 10:20. Penalties — Kenai River 5 for 21:00; Springfield 4 for 19:00.
Third period — 4. Springfield, Bell (Long, Meeh), pp, 10:13. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Springfield 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 2-0-9—11; Springfield 15-17-7—39.
Goalies — Kenai River, Lindhe (39 shots, 35 saves); Springfield, Nappier (11 shots, 11 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 4; Springfield 2 for 5.
Jr. Blues 4, Brown Bears 1
Kenai River 0 0 1 —1
Springfield 1 1 2 —4
First period — 1. Springfield, Bell (Stone, Craggs), 7:45. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Springfield, Skinner (Tomiak, Radetic), 17:44. Penalties — Kenai River 5 for 10:00; Springfield 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 3. Springfield, Tomiak (Kuznetsov, Balodis), 1:45; 4. Springfield, Ceh (Tzveyn, Kuznetsov), 2:32; 5. Kenai River, Butcher (Hartje, Hank), pp, 5:39.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 9-7-8—24; Springfield 15-24-8—47.
Goalies — Kenai River, Lindhe (47 shots, 43 saves); Springfield, Della Maggorie (24 shots, 23 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 1 for 2; Springfield 0 for 4.