Kevin Murdock (left) takes to the ice Friday, April 23, 2021, against the Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel. Murdock has resigned as head coach of the Kenai River Brown Bears. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Murdock steps down as head coach of Brown Bears

The Kenai River Brown Bears announced in a press release Monday that head coach Kevin Murdock is no longer with the North American Hockey League team.

“Kevin has resigned to pursue other options in the NAHL,” Chris Hedlund, Kenai River Brown Bears general manager, said in a released statement. “While disappointed in his abrupt departure, we understand that the NAHL is the League of Opportunity.

“The organization thanks him for his contributions and wishes him the best in future endeavors.”

Murdock took over the team before the 2019-20 season and finishes with the highest winning percentage in Brown Bears coaching history, at 47-40-4-4 for a mark of .537.

After putting the Bears on the path to earning a playoff berth in the 2019-20 season before the coronavirus pandemic canceled the rest of the season, this season Murdock led the Bears to their first playoff berth since 2014.

Kenai River finishes the regular season with Friday and Saturday games at the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and May 14 and 15 games at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex against the Ice Dogs.

Hedlund said the Bears will announce new staff additions in the near future. Hedlund and Murdock were not available for further comment Monday.

In a separate press release, the Bears announced the creation of the Alaska Airlines Cup. The Cup will be awarded to Kenai River or Fairbanks this season based on the results of these last four games.

Next season, the Cup will go to the winner of head-to-head competition between Kenai River, Fairbanks and the Anchorage Wolverines.

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