The host Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel completed a two-game sweep of the Kenai River Brown Bears with a 6-2 victory on Saturday in North American Hockey League play.
The Brown Bears (21-20-1-1) remain in fifth place in the Midwest Division, one spot out of the playoffs.
The Minnesota Wilderness lead the division with 52 points, while the Fairbanks Ice Dogs have 50, the Wisconsin Windigo have 48 and the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets have 47.
The Bears have 44, while the Anchorage Wolverines have 42, the Steel (19-18-1-1) have 40 and the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues have 39.
The Bears have 17 games remaining, all in Alaska. Eleven of those games will be at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, starting Feb. 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
“We’re excited to get back,” Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said. “The tough part, like we talked about after the game, is now we have two weeks with the taste of getting swept in our mouths.
“That’s got to fuel our preparation over the next two weeks.”
The Steel, who outshot Kenai River 9-2 in the first period, took a 3-0 lead by the time 9:14 was left in the first period. Logan Cleary, Shawn Ramsey and Kazumo Sasaki had the goals for Chippewa.
“It looked like how we were in warmups,” Shaw said of the first 10 minutes.
Kenai River got one back before the end of the first period on the power play. Hunter Newhouse scored on assists from Luke Anderson and Nick Stevens.
“The old cliche is the two-goal lead is the worst in hockey,” Shaw said. “You don’t like the first period, but we were still in the game.”
Shaw said the Bears had some nice offensive zone time in the game, and got some chances by moving their feet and forechecking.
“Every time we started to push, we gave a goal up,” Shaw said.
After Sam Rice put the Steel up 4-1, Garett Drotts, with help from Ryan Finch, scored with 12:30 left in the second.
Peyton Platter and Cleary scored in the third period for the Steel.
Carter Wishart had 23 saves for the Steel, while Nils Wallstrom stopped 26 for the Brown Bears.
Wallstrom, Finch, Newhouse and Noah Holt are representing the Bears at the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament on Monday and today in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania.
Newhouse had a goal Monday as Team Midwest lost to Team South 7-3. Ryan Finch and Noah Holt did not score, while Wallstrom did not play.
Steel 6, Brown Bears 2
Kenai River 1 1 0 —2
Chippewa 3 1 2 —6
First period — 1. Chippewa, Cleary (Sondreal, Sasaki), 2:37; 2. Chippewa, Ramsey (Frandina, Trunda), 3:36; 3. Chippewa, Sasaki (Nielsen, Trunda), 10:46; 4. Kenai River, Newhouse (L. Anderson, Stevens), pp, 13:22. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Chippewa 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 5. Chippewa, Rice (Grainda, Nielsen), 4:51; 6. Kenai River, Drotts (Finch), 7:30. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Chippewa 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 7. Chippewa, Platter (Brille, Rice), 13:58; 8. Chippewa, Cleary (Sondreal), 19:36. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Chippewa 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 2-13-10—25; Chippewa 9-14-9—32.
Goalies — Kenai River, Wallstrom (32 shots, 26 saves); Chippewa, Wishart (25 shots, 23 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 1 for 2; Chippewa 0 for 3.