New Mexico Ice Wolves forward Tristan Rand shields the puck from Kenai River Brown Bears forward Daymin Dodge on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

New Mexico Ice Wolves forward Tristan Rand shields the puck from Kenai River Brown Bears forward Daymin Dodge on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

NAHL pauses season; Bears won’t play Friday, Saturday

The Kenai River Brown Bears will not play the Northeast (Massachusetts) Generals on Friday and Saturday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex after the North American Hockey League paused its season Thursday due to the new coronavirus.

The NAHL released the following statement from Mark Frankenfeld, commissioner of the league: “This is an unprecedented time and situation. First at foremost, we want to be sure we are doing what is best for the hockey community: players, teams, fans, and officials. In the past 24 hours, it became clear that we needed to follow a path that was consistent with what has transpired in the hockey world, particularly with our partners at USA Hockey, the NCAA, the NHL and the USHL.

“We will continue to monitor the situation daily with everyone involved and we understand that given the current landscape, things could change at any moment. Our number one goal is to resume play as soon as possible, but only when it is safe for all of the parties involved. The NAHL Board of Governors will reconvene on a conference call Friday to discuss further action.”

Reached Thursday via text message, Kenai River head coach Kevin Murdock said all the Bears can do is wait to hear from the league on what the future holds.

Chris Hedlund, general manager of the Bears, echoed Murdock via text: “We hope to know more in the coming days relative to our players and our daily activities.”

The season is paused with the Bears sitting in third place in the Midwest Division with eight games that were originally scheduled to be played.

In the standings, each win counts as two points, while an overtime loss or shootout loss is a point.

Kenai River has 60 points, while the second-place Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel have 62 points, the fourth-place Minnesota Magicians have 51 points and the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets sit just out of the playoffs with 50 points.

The Bears, who have not made the playoffs since the 2013-14 season, improved their prospects by sweeping the Amarillo (Texas) Bulls last weekend at the sports complex.

Kenai River upped its record on home ice to 17-4-1-1, matching the franchise record of 17 home wins set in the 2012-13 season. At 27-19-3-3, Kenai River also put itself in position to make a run at the franchise regular season record for wins set at 31 in 2011-12.

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