The Kenai River Brown Bears continue a tough early season home slate when the North American Hockey League Midwest Division-leading Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets come to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex today and Saturday for 7:30 p.m. games.
The Bears have gone 0-5 at home en route to starting the season 1-12-2-0. The home losses came to the Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Tomahawks and the New Jersey Titans, who are a combined 25-9-1-1.
Now the Jets and their 12-4-0-1 record roll into town. Janesville is third in the league in scoring.
“They’ve got four lines of pretty skilled guys,” Kenai River head coach Jeff Worlton said. “It’s going to be a challenge, for sure.”
The Bears can take solace in what happened the last time they face the leader of the Midwest.
Two weeks ago, Kenai River picked up three points in a two-game series at the Minnesota Magicians, a squad now in second place in the division.
Kenai River was unable to sustain the momentum due to being swept by the Coulee Region (Wisconsin) Chill last weekend, but Worlton said the club continues to improve.
“I think we’re starting to create more offensively,” Worlton said. “The forwards are starting to make some plays and the D are jumping up in the rush more.”
The coach said Anchorage’s Evan Butcher, the only returner who was here all of last season, has been doing a good job creating offense and leading the team. Butcher has three goals and two assists.
Worlton added that forward Tyler Rock also has picked it up, and was rewarded with his first goal of the season Friday at Coulee.
After playing just five games at home so far, this series starts a string of seven straight home games for the Bears.
Worlton said the players are looking forward to getting off the road and doing things like volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club.
“Getting into a routine is always a good thing,” the coach said.
Bears notes: Former Brown Bears player and Soldotna High School product Brad Duwe was named a Pacific District Standout Player for the NCAA after scoring two goals for the University of Alaska Anchorage on Friday.