Kenai River Brown Bears forward Brandon Lajoie (arm raised) celebrates his first-period goal Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, against the Maine Nordiques at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Brandon Lajoie (arm raised) celebrates his first-period goal Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, against the Maine Nordiques at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Nordiques sweep Brown Bears

The Maine Nordiques swept the Kenai River Brown Bears on Friday and Saturday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex to extend Kenai River’s North American Hockey League losing streak to seven games.

The Bears drop to 22-13-2-3, good for 48 points and second place in the Midwest Division. The Fairbanks Ice Dogs lead with 59 points, while Chippewa is in third with 42 points.

Maine improves to 17-22-2-0 and is in fifth place in the East Division.

Isaiah Fox and the Maine Nordiques started slow Friday and got better and better throughout the game.

Fox scored the game-winner with 3 minutes, 11 seconds, left in the five-minute overtime period to give the Nordiques a 2-1 victory.

Despite the result, Kenai River head coach Kevin Murdock said Friday was a step forward for his team after two tough weekends on the road after the holiday break.

“Especially for the first half of the game, I thought we played pretty well,” Murdock said. “We did a good job generating chances and getting back to the way we’re capable of playing.”

Maine goalie Wesley Mankowski did an equally good job stopping those chances. Mankowski was picked up from the Minnesota Magicians after the Nordiques lost a goalie to the United States Hockey League.

“He’s been a calming presence back there,” Nordiques head coach Nolan Howe said.

Mankowski stopped 35 of 36, with the exception being a goal by Eagle River’s Brandon Lajoie, assisted by Peter Morgan, near the close of the first period.

Maine would equalize in the middle of the second when Ignat Belov threw a bad-angle shot at the net and it bounced off traffic and into the net.

“The effort was there, but at the end of the day, we’re not getting the bounces we were in the first half when we were winning,” Murdock said.

In the third period, Murdock said his team got a little tired and the Nordiques took advantage, outshooting the Bears 13-7 in the frame.

“Our best period was the third period,” Howe said. “We got better and better as the game went on.”

Howe gave credit to Kenai River goalie Danny Fraga, who stopped 41 of 43, for getting the Bears to overtime.

There, Fox decided things by crashing the net from the side with a defender draped on his back, executing a wraparound to end the game.

“He’s a guy that does what it takes to win hockey games, whether that’s scoring, fighting or back-checking,” Howe said, adding that Fox kept battling after getting off to a slow start in the first period.

Howe also spoke highly of the hospitality provided by the Bears.

“For us to play in Alaska is an honor,” he said. “The people here have been great and it was a fun crowd. That makes it a great experience for these young men.”

Murdock added that defensemen Connor Scahill and Anchorage’s Max Osborne played well in their first games with Kenai River.

Saturday, Maine scored all three of the games’ third-period goals in a 4-2 victory.

Noah Kane got the Nordiques on the board with 3 minutes, 44 seconds, gone in the second period, but Lajoie equalized for the Bears with 13:51 left in the second. Logan Ritchie, assisted by Anchorage’s Max Helgeson, then put the Bears ahead.

Goals by Casper Soderling and Trent Grimshaw had the Nordiques up with 6:25 left in the game, then Kevin Pitts finished things off with a goal with two seconds left.

Fraga stopped 34 for the Bears, while Avery Sturtz stopped 36 for the Nordiques.

The Bears host the New Mexico Ice Wolves on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Friday

Nordiques 2, Brown Bears 1

Maine 0 1 0 1 —2

Kenai River 1 0 0 0 —1

First period — 1. Kenai River, Lajoie (Morgan), 18:57. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Second period — 2. Maine, Belov (un.), 12:27. Penalties — Maine 2 for 6:00; Kenai River 1 for 4:00.

Third period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

Overtime — Maine, Fox (Prout, Pitts), 1:49. Penalties — none.

Shots on goal — Maine 14-14-13-2—43; Kenai River 18-10-7-1—36.

Goalies — Maine, Mankowski (36 shots, 35 saves); Kenai River, Fraga (43 shots, 41 saves).

Power plays — Maine 0 for 3; Kenai River 0 for 1.

Saturday

Nordiques 4, Brown Bears 2

Maine 0 1 3 —4

Kenai River 0 2 0 —2

First period — none. Penalties — none.

Second period — 1. Maine, Kane (Kent), 3:44; 2. Kenai River, Lajoie (un.), 6:09; 3. Kenai River, Ritchie (Helgeson), pp, 11:22. Penalties — Maine 1 for 2:00.

Third period — 4. Maine, Soderling (Thibeault), 2:44; 5. Maine, Grimshaw (Pitts, Belov), 13:25; 6. Maine, Pitts (Soderling), 19:58. Penalties — Maine 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.

Shots on goal — Maine 16-14-8—38; Kenai River 13-15-10—38.

Goalies — Maine, Sturtz (38 shots, 36 saves); Kenai River, Fraga (38 shots, 34 saves).

Power plays — Maine 1 for 1, Kenai River 1 for 2.

Kenai River Brown Bears defenseman Ryan Reid battles Ignat Belov of the Maine Nordiques for the puck Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River Brown Bears defenseman Ryan Reid battles Ignat Belov of the Maine Nordiques for the puck Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Logan Ritchie steps inside of Maine Nordiques defenseman Derek Hessinger on Friday, Jan. 18, 2020, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Logan Ritchie steps inside of Maine Nordiques defenseman Derek Hessinger on Friday, Jan. 18, 2020, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Cannon Green and Noah Kane of the Maine Nordiques attack Kenai River goalie Danny Fraga on Friday, Jan. 18, 2020, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Cannon Green and Noah Kane of the Maine Nordiques attack Kenai River goalie Danny Fraga on Friday, Jan. 18, 2020, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

More in Sports

Service's Landon Martindale gets back to first base safely in front of Post 20 Twins first baseman Matthew Schilling on Sunday, June 23, 2024, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Service, Napoleon (Ohi0) advance to Lance Coz championship

The Post 28 Service Cougars and Post 300 Napoleon (Ohio) River Bandits… Continue reading

Peninsula Oilers second baseman Cole Dawson makes a play Saturday, June 22, 2024, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Saturday: Miners avoid 5-game sweep by topping Oilers

The Mat-Su Miners defeated the Peninsula Oilers 9-4 on Saturday in Alaska… Continue reading

tease
Friday: Oilers make it 4 straight against Miners

The Peninsula Oilers defeated the Mat-Su Miners 5-4 on Friday in Alaska… Continue reading

Mat-Su Miners catcher Blake Balsz forces out Cole Wilson of the Peninsula Oilers on Thursday, June 20, 2024, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Thursday: Oilers take 3rd straight against Miners

The Peninsula Oilers defeated the Mat-Su Miners 2-0 on Thursday in Alaska… Continue reading

Learn to identify the invasive green crab. (Photo provided by NOAA)
Refuge Notebook: Invasive green crab rapid response plan: Just what the doctor ordered

As Alaskans, we all love our coastline. It’s where treasures are found,… Continue reading

Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby waves to the crowd in Seward during her celebratory parade on Thursday, August 5, 2021. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Lydia Jacoby, after surprise Tokyo Olympic gold, misses out on Paris: ‘It hasn’t quite hit me yet’

Veteran swimmers often describe U.S. Olympic trials as the hardest swim meet in the world

Lars Arneson runs to victory and a new event record in the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Arneson, McCabe win at Bird Ridge

Lars Arneson, a 2009 graduate of Cook Inlet Academy, won the Robert… Continue reading

tease
Wednesday: Oilers take 2nd in a row from Miners

The Peninsula Oilers defeated the Mat-Su Miners 4-3 on Wednesday in Alaska… Continue reading

Most Read