Saturday: Tomahawks finish sweep of Brown Bears

The Kenai River Brown Bears continued their longest pointless streak in team history Saturday night with an 11th straight loss, coming at the hands of the Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Tomahawks.

The Brown Bears lost 6-1 Friday to set the team record of 10 in a row, then lost 4-1 Saturday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. Kenai River is currently last in the North American Hockey League Midwest division with a 1-13-0 record.

Saturday night’s contest was knotted up at 1-1 heading into the third period — courtesy of second-period goals by Johnstown’s Andrew Romano and Kenai River’s Evan Butcher — but the determined Tomahawks defense intercepted the puck at Johnstown’s blue line and Kelly O’Brien was able to skate up the right side and deliver the game-winning goal from the outer edge of the faceoff circle with 17 minutes, 21 seconds, remaining in the game.

“It was a fantastic shot,” said Tomahawks coach Mike Letizia. “Kelly has an NHL-type shot, and if he can get it off to the net, usually good things happen.”

In the final 15 minutes, Kenai River turned up the pressure but saw multiple chances to score go by the wayside, including several opportunities by Joey Sardina.

After the Tomahawks scored an insurance goal with 3:45 left, Johnstown committed two major penalties that put them on the five-minute power play. However, Kenai River was unable to pounce on the chance to close the gap and Johnstown ultimately netted an empty-netter with 48 seconds left.

“Unfortunately, I think we’re the most penalized team in the league,” Letizia said. “We’ve done a lot of penalty-killing, so we knew what we were doing and we had the confidence to kill it off.”

The Bears’ penalty kill efficiency — the worst in the league — bit them once again. Andrew Romano struck just 13 seconds into a Johnstown power play, getting the puck from Drew Doyon and chipping it up into the net from close range.

After several close moments — including one where Gunnar Goodmanson batted down an airborne puck in front of Kenai River’s net while the Tomahawks were on a power play — the Brown Bears knotted the game up with 1:35 to play in the second period. Charles Spetz corralled the puck at the blue line and unleashed a beeline shot to the goal to equalize.

“I think it hit like three things on its way to the goal, so we knew it was kind of a bouncy goal,” Letizia said.

Kenai River goalie Nicholas Nast kept Johnstown from regaining the lead with a desperate clampdown on the puck with 8.5 seconds left in the frame.

Nick DeSimone, for the second straight night, stopped 35 of 36 shots, giving him a total of 70 out of 72 shots sent his way over the weekend.

Kenai River will host the Aston (Pennsylvania) Rebels next weekend for two games Friday and Saturday night at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Tomahawks 4, Brown Bears 1

Johnstown 0 1 3 —4

Kenai River 0 1 0 —1

1st Period — no scoring. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Johnstown 2 for 4:00.

2nd Period — 1. Johnstown, Romano (Doyon), pp, 8:21; 2. Kenai River, Butcher (Sardina, Spetz), 18:25. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

3rd Period — 3. Johnstown, O’Brien (Linkenheld, Lynch), 2:45; 4. Johnstown, Linkenheld (Romano), 16:15; 5. Johnstown, Lynch (Buncis), en, 19:12. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Johnstown 2 for 15:00.

Shots on goal — Kenai River 12-14-10—36; Johnstown 13-14-11—38.

Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 3; Johnstown 1 for 5.

Goalies — Kenai River, Nast (37 shots, 34 saves); Johnstown, DeSimone (36 shots, 35 saves).

More in Sports

Kenai Central's Sawyer Vann controls Nikiski's Wyatt Maguire at 125 pounds Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. Vann notched a 7-6 victory. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Area wrestlers collect mat time before Thanksgiving break

Area wrestlers got in some mat time Tuesday before the Thanksgiving break.… Continue reading

Soldotna junior Liam Babitt holds a grip on South Anchorage’s Britten Hamilton during the 215-pound final of the Lancer Smith Fall Varsity 2021 Invite on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 at the Menard Arena in Wasilla, Alaska. (Photo by Jeremiah Bartz/Frontiersman)
Soldotna crowns 4 champions at Lancer Smith

The Soldotna wrestling team finished fourth Friday and Saturday at the Lancer… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Bryce Monrean tries to find a way through the defense of the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues during a first-period power play Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Jr. Blues come back to take series from Bears

The Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues lost not only a 2020-21 season to… Continue reading

Assistant coach Taylor Shaw leads the Kenai River Brown Bears during a game Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears start search for new head coach

The Kenai River Brown Bears issued a press release Friday about staff… Continue reading

Hockey roundup: SoHi sweeps in Kodiak; West wins End of Road tourney

The Soldotna hockey team swept Kodiak in the first high school games… Continue reading

A brown bear feeds on a salmon. (Photo by C. Canterbury/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Bears, uniquely built to respond to winter

With the new snow and temperatures dipping into the single digits, you… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Caden Warren surveys the ice against West at the End of the Road Tournament at Kevin Bell Arena in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Kenai, Homer hockey lose to open tourney

The Kenai Central and Homer hockey teams both opened the End of… Continue reading

Caden Triggs of the Kenai River Brown Bears celebrates his first-period goal against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears topple Jr. Blues

By JEFF HELMINIAK Peninsula Clarion The Kenai River Brown Bears received two… Continue reading

Michael proposes to Sarah at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the Office: Falling in love one snowflake at a time

Do you want to know what I’ve been looking forward to the… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Caden Triggs carries the puck against Anchorage Wolverines defenseman Campbell Cichosz on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears to host 1st place Jr. Blues

The current stretch of the schedule for the Kenai River Brown Bears… Continue reading

Soldotna's Isaac Chavarria wrestles to a major decision over Kenai Central's Andrew Gaethle at 152 pounds during a dual meet at Kenai Central High School on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi wrestlers take dual meet from Kenai

The visiting Soldotna wrestling team defeated Kenai Central 69-6 in a dual… Continue reading