The Kenai River Brown Bears will continue their search for consistency when the Minnesota Magicians come to the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex for 7:30 p.m. games tonight and Saturday.
Bears head coach Geoff Beauparlant said a Kenai River fan living out of town recently told him, “You guys are all over the place.”
“It’s true,” Beauparlant said. “You never know what you’re going to get. We’re working on preaching consistency, staying focused on the task and finding that chemistry we need.
“When it does finally click, we are going to be a tough team to play against.”
The Bears enter the series in last place in the North American Hockey League Midwest Division.
Kenai River is 8-11-0, good for 16 points, while the Minnesota Wilderness and Coulee Region (Wisconsin) Chill are tied for third with 19 points.
The Magicians are in second at 11-8-0, for 22 points.
The teams have played twice this year, and as has become typical with the Bears, the results varied greatly. The Magicians won the first game 6-4 and lost the second 5-1.
Beauparlant said to expect high-paced games.
“They have some high-end skill and some well-coached guys that can really razzle-dazzle you,” Beauparlant said.
That skill really shows up on the power play, where the Magicians are tops in the league with a 25.8 percent conversion rate.
The Bears appeared to have found some consistency, winning three of four before heading to Fairbanks last weekend.
But the Ice Dogs notched 9-1 and 8-5 victories.
“I thought we prepared well and came in with a good game plan,” Beauparlant said. “I thought we executed well, especially early in both games.
“We didn’t pay enough attention to detail and our goaltending was below average throughout the series. You can’t let a team like Fairbanks get on a roll.”
Beauparlant said multiple personnel changes early in the season, plus injuries and suspensions, have not helped consistency.
Forward Colton Fletcher will be out tonight due to suspension, while forward Nick Klishko will sit with an injury.
That means the Bears again will not have the preferred 12 forwards and six defensemen in the lineup, probably instead opting for 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
At the same time, Beauparlant said the team must learn to adjust.
“The guys that succeed at the next level, at college, are the guys that show they are adaptable and can work within the system,” he said.
Notes: Beauparlant said the entire Brown Bears organization sends its condolences to Ice Dogs general manager Rob Proffitt, whose father, Randy, passed away Monday in Detroit. …
The Bears spent two hours outside the Arby’s in Kenai and Soldotna on Tuesday honoring veterans for Veterans Day. Next weekend will be military appreciation weekend at the sports complex. “It’s an important piece — that our players realize how much our veterans have sacrificed for hundreds of years for our freedom and continued safety in the U.S.” …
Tonight will be Sportsman’s Warehouse night, while Saturday will be Stanley Chrysler night.