Series preview: Bears vs. Minot Minotauros

Coming off a split in a series in North Dakota on Oct. 6 and 7, the Kenai River Brown Bears and Minot Minotauros meet in 7:30 p.m. games at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex today and Saturday.

In that first series, the Minotauros won the first game 4-2 with a late empty-netter, while the Brown Bears came back to win 4-3 the next night when Luke Radetic scored with 18 seconds left.

“When it’s all said and done, it’s going to come down to shutting down the top line and whoever gets better goaltending,” Kenai River head coach Josh Petrich said. “When we played them, we got really good goaltending on Saturday and they got really good goaltending on Friday.”

The high scorers for the Bears are Radetic, whose total of 20 points on 10 goals and 10 assists puts him seventh in the league. Gil Garcia has 17 points, good for a tie for 12th in the league, and also is tied for the league lead in goals with 11.

A sign of the Bears’ league-leading power play comes from the fact Eagle River’s Cam McDonald is tied for fifth in the league among defensemen with 14 points, all coming via assists.

Minot has gotten 15 points apiece from Miroslav Mucha and Grant Loven.

The Brown Bears are looking to build on a 2-1 overtime victory over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Saturday. Friday, the Bears had lost to the same Ice Dogs 7-1.

“Something I’m pretty proud of is the resiliency and never-give-up attitude of this team,” Petrich said. “It would have been easy for a team that lost 7-1 Friday to come out and just get shelled Saturday.

“We came out and showed more grit and tenacity than we have all year. I’m pretty proud of the character of the boys.”

Minot is coming off two straight losses to the Aberdeen (South Dakota) Wings.

Bears notes: Eagle River’s Zach Krajnik, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound forward, has joined the team full-time. Krajnik had played with the Brown Bears at the NAHL Showcase as an affiliate.

Krajnik is 18 and has two years of junior eligibility left after this season.

“He’s got a great brain for the game,” Petrich said. “He really sees the ice well for a young kid. He has a high end motor that not most kids have.

“I’m excited about that and helping him develop a complete game.”

Krajnik had three goals and nine assists in 13 games for the Iowa Wild AAA U18 team this season. …

There will be a Skate With the Bears after Saturday’s game. Petrich said the plan is to try and do that after every Saturday home game.

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