The Kenai River Brown Bears went into the holiday break by getting one point out of a two-game series at the Minnesota Magicians on Friday and Saturday in North American Hockey League play.
Kenai River lost 3-2 in a shootout on Friday and 5-0 on Saturday. The Bears don’t play until Dec. 29, when they are at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at 3:30 p.m. AST.
While Brown Bears coach Josh Petrich would have liked more than one point, he saw this as a good time to reflect on where the program is after finishing 12-46-2-0 last season. The Bears are now 10-18-1-1, in fifth in the Midwest Division, while Minnesota is 16-12-1-1 and in fourth in the division.
“We’re two games shy of where we were with the win total last year,” Petrich said. “There’s a lot of stuff I could be nitpicky about, but I’m proud of the guys we have and the community, organization and fans compared to where we were 365 days ago.”
Petrich said the theme of the weekend was the Brown Bears starting slow and Minnesota goalie Isaiah Saville, who is from Anchorage and has committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, playing great in net.
“We could have won both games,” Petrich said. “A lot of credit goes to Saville. He was the difference-maker this weekend.”
Friday’s shootout went to eight rounds with Saville and Kenai River’s Gavin Enright battling back and forth.
In the shootout, Sacha Guillemain scored in the first round for the Bears, but Jarrett Lee scored in the third round for Minnesota to send it to extra shooters. Saville, who is from Anchorage, would stop all seven shooters after Guillemain to hold the fort until Arturas Laukaitis could end it.
Gavin Enright topped six of eight in the shootout and 46 of 48 shots for the Bears, but it was not enough. Saville saved 25 for Minnesota.
“Neither goalie deserved to lose,” Petrich said. “You can’t ask a goalie to go eight rounds.”
After a scoreless first period, Brendan Skarda put Minnesota up 1-0 heading into the third.
With 13 minutes, 11 seconds, left in the game, Dan Sandvig tied it for Kenai River, but John Keranen put Minnesota back up with 9:52 to play. Sandvig has joined the team because the Bears are short-handed due to injuries and two players playing in a tournament overseas. Sandvig was with the Bears in training camp but got mono, taking two months to make a full recovery.
“I have to go watch the game tape, critique and figure out which 23 guys are headed to Wilkes-Barre,” Petrich said.
About a minute later, though, Eagle River’s Zach Krajnik scored for the Bears to set up overtime and the shootout.
Saturday, Calvin Dybicz scored in the first period for Minnesota, then Bram Scheerer made it 2-0 with 11:46 left in the game. Minnesota then got three empty-net goals to account for the final score.
“Losing is losing, whether it is 1-0 or 6-0,” Petrich said. “I’ll never give up on the guys and always give them the best chance possible to win the game.”
Artur Pavliukov had 28 saves for the Bears, while Saville stopped 22 for the Magicians.
Bears notes: Petrich also wanted to make sure Brown Bears fans know about a fundraising effort for Megan Stuber on gofundme.com. The links to the fundraiser are available on the Twitter and Facebook accounts for the Bears.
The fundraiser is to help Megan, the daughter of Bears director of marketing and community liaison Steve Stuber, in her battle with Lyme disease.
“She takes everyday with a smile and the full force of the Brown Bears behind her,” Petrich said. “We definitely think about her and wish her the best. It’s an unfortunate that such a thing would happen to such a sweet and innocent girl, but we know she’s tough and strong.”
Magicians 3, Brown Bears 2, SO
Kenai River 0 0 2 0 0 — 2
Minnesota 0 1 1 0 1 — 3
First period — none. Penalties — Minnesota 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 1. Minnesota, Skarda (Grundy, Breitenfeldt), 10:18. Penalties — none.
Third period — 2. Kenai River, Sandvig (Wade, Casey), 6:49; 3. Minnesota, Keranen (Buhl, Grundy), 10:08; 4. Kenai River, Krajnik (Radetic, Fedorek), 11:12. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Minnesota 2 for 4:00.
Overtime — none. Penalties — Minnesota 1 for 2:00.
Shootout — Kenai River 1 (Guillemain G, Radetic NG, Garcia NG, C. McDonald NG, Wade NG, Wahl NG, Scahill NG, Krajnik NG); Minnesota (Scheerer NG, Buhl NG, Lee G, Stanton NG, Ganske NG, Keranen NG, Weiand NG, Laukaitis G).
Shots on goal — Kenai River 9-7-8-3—27; Minnesota 13-15-16-4—49.
Goalies — Kenai River, Enright (48 shots, 46 saves); Minnesota, Saville (27 shots, 25 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 5, Minnesota 0 for 2.
Magicians 5, Brown Bears 0
Kenai River 0 0 0 — 0
Minnesota 1 0 4 — 5
First period — 1. Minnesota, Dybicz (Lee, Stanton), pp, 9:17. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 8; Minnesota 1 for 4:00.
Second period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 5 for 10:00; Minnesota 3 for 9:00.
Third period — 2. Minnesota, Scheerer (Grundy, Stanton), 8:14; 3. Minnesota, Laukaitis (Breitenfeldt), en, 17:15; 4. Minnesota, Breitenfeldt (Skarda, DeStefani), en, 17:57; 5. Minnesota, Laukaitis (Nauss, Kirkendall), en, 19:52. Penalties — Kenai River 5 for 18:00; Minnesota 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 8-14-0—22; Minnesota 18-11-4—33.
Goalies — Kenai River, Pavliukov (30 shots, 28 saves); Minnesota, Saville (22 shots, 22 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 6; Minnesota 1 for 13.