The Anchorage Wolverines defeated the Kenai River Brown Bears 7-2 on Saturday in North American Hockey League action at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
The Wolverines have won all four games against the Brown Bears this season and lead the Club 49 Cup with 10 points. The Fairbanks Ice Dogs have four, while the Brown Bears have three.
Anchorage also moves into a tie for third in the Midwest Division with the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets at 11-6-2-0 for 24 points.
The Minnesota Wilderness lead with 30 points, while the Wisconsin Windigo have 26.
The Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel are in fifth with 23, while the Bears (10-12-2-0) and Ice Dogs are tied for sixth with 22 points. The Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues have 17 points.
The Brown Bears travel to play Fairbanks at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said his team didn’t show up to play Saturday in front of the big crowd at the sports complex.
“I think we did a disservice to the arena being full,” he said. “They were pretty much quiet the whole game. What a shame to waste that many people coming out to support them.
“We didn’t show the pride we have to put on the sweater that represents the community.”
Anchorage head coach Nick Walters said special teams played a big role in the victory.
Anchorage went up 2-0 in the first period on goals from Lukas Bellinger and Christian Theberge.
The Wolverines then committed penalties with 7:14 and 5:29 left in the first period, but killed off both penalties, including 15 seconds of five-on-three.
Then in the second period, Anchorage went up 3-0 when Fyodor Nikolayenya scored on the power play with 15:42 left.
The Wolverines were 2 for 3 on the power play, while the Bears were 0 for 4.
“We go 2 for 3 on the power play, and our penalty kill was really good,” Walters said. “Most times, it’s easy to say, ‘They didn’t play well.’
“But when special teams are clicking, that really helps no matter who’s playing.”
With 4:10 left in the second period, Nick Stevens, assisted by Kotaro Tsutsumi and Carter Gillen, cut it to 3-1.
But the Wolverines’ Trent Powell, who is from Soldotna, scored just 36 seconds later to stop Kenai River’s only momentum of the night.
With 9:46 left in the game, Taisetsu Ushio made it 5-1.
With 7:42 left, Dylan Contreras, assisted by Tiziano Pauchard and Owen Hanson, cut it to 5-2.
Anchorage’s Danny Bagnole scored just 42 seconds later, the Kade Shea finished the scoring by becoming the seventh different Wolverines player to score.
“Tonight, we did kind of tinker with the lineup,” Walters said. “We’ve tried to spread out the offense a bit to have maybe three or four lines that are going.”
Liam Beerman had 35 saves for the Wolverines, while Marks Slavinskis-Repe stopped 27 for the Bears.
Despite the performance, Shaw said his team is still in the playoff race.
“We just have to rip off a couple,” he said. “We can sit in this one for a little bit, because I think it’s important.