Jr. Blues take rubber match from Brown Bears

Jr. Blues take rubber match from Brown Bears

The visiting Kenai River Brown Bears dropped a 9-3 contest to the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues on Sunday in North American Hockey League play.

The Bears had won Friday and lost Saturday before losing the rubber match in the crucial three-game series.

Kenai River (17-25-3-2) is now 15 points behind the Jr. Blues (25-19-3-1) and Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets in the race for the final playoff spot in the Midwest Division. Springfield and Janesville are tied for third place.

“We’ve got a lot of guys sick and banged up and battling through stuff this weekend,” interim head coach Dan Bogdan said. “It was a long weekend. Next week, we’ll get some rest and be feeling better.”

The Bears gave up eight goals Saturday and nine Sunday in by far their worst defensive performances of the season. Before that, the most goals the Bears had given up was six, which occurred on two occasions.

“It’s going to happen a couple times during a 60-game season,” Bogdan said. “We had a lot of guys feeling pretty sick, including the goalie. It’s a bad time for it to happen.”

Gavin Enright had been lights out for the Bears lately before giving up the eight goals Saturday and eight goals on 33 shots Sunday. Goalie Andrew Slobiski saw his first action for the Brown Bears and stopped six on seven shots.

“He looked pretty good today,” Bogdan said of Slobiski. “He saw a few shots and let one in, but it was a good shot.”

Janis Voris made 21 saves for the Blues.

For Springfield, Nikita Kozyrev, coming off a hat trick Saturday, had two goals and an assist. Nick Techel also had two goals and an assist, while Brandon Puricelli had four assists and Max Brainin, David Schmidling and Jayden Jensen each had two assists.

The Bears, who were down 2-1 after the first period before getting outscored 3-0 in the second period, received goals from Markuss Komuls, Laudon Poellinger and Michael Spethmann. Assists went to Jackson Nauss, Alex Klekotka, Poellinger, Andy Walker and Sutton McDonald.

The Bears stay on the road to face the Minnesota Magicians, who are in first place in the Midwest, Thursday and Saturday at 4 p.m.

“We’ll give the guys the day off (Monday) and let them rest up, hydrate, take care of their bodies and get ready for next weekend,” Bogdan said.

It was an especially long week for Bogdan, Spethmann and JJ Boucher. All three were at the Top Prospects Tournament in Attleboro, Massachusetts, on Monday and Tuesday.

Top Prospects is one of the most highly scouted events in junior hockey. This year, there were over 220 scouts from NCAA, NHL and junior teams.

Boucher had an assist as the Midwest Division lost to Selects Blue 6-2 on Monday. Neither Brown Bears player had a point in a 2-1 overtime loss to South Division on Tuesday.

The bad news is Boucher came down with an illness so bad he could not suit up for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday games against the Jr. Blues.

“They both played extremely well,” Bogdan said of Spethmann and Boucher. “Hopefully, we can make a move to finish up both of their scholarships.”


Jr. Blues 9, Brown Bears 3

Kenai River 1 0 2 — 3

Springfield 2 3 4 — 9

First period — 1. Springfield, Kozyrev (Puricelli, Techel), 0:54; 2. Springfield, Kozyrev (Puricelli), 3:42; 3. Kenai River, Komuls (Klekotka, Walker), 12:40. Penalties — Springfield 1 for 2:00.

Second period — 4. Springfield, Stark (Sterne, Jensen), 5:57; 5. Springfield, Techel (Brainin, Puricelli), 18:38; 6. Springfield, Stewart (Jensen, Aird), 19:28. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Springfield 2 for 4:00.

Third period — 7. Springfield, Brainin (B. Schmidling, D. Schmidling), 0:53; 8. Springfield, B. Schmidling (D. Schmidling, Brainin), 3:25; 9. Kenai River, Spethmann (Poellinger), pp, 7:47; 10. Springfield, Techel (Puricelli, Kozyrev), 8:19; 11. Springfield, Swanson (Stark, Villegas), 16:48; 11. Kenai River, Poellinger (Nauss, McDonald), 19:52.

Shots on goal — Kenai River 7-9-8—24; Springfield 14-15-11—40.

Goalies — Kenai River, Enright (33 shots, 25 saves), Slobiski (7 shots, 6 saves); Springfield, Voris (24 shots, 21 saves).

Power plays — Kenai River 1 for 5; Springfield 1 for 1.

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