The Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel defeated the Kenai River Brown Bears 5-1 on Thursday in North American Hockey League action at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
The Brown Bears saw a two-game winning streak snapped, but remain in first place in the Midwest Division at 11-5-1-0. The Steel are 10-6-0-0 and in third place in the division.
The same two teams play Friday and Saturday at the sports complex at 7:30 p.m.
In hockey, giving up goals in the first or last two minutes of any period is considered a cardinal sin. The Bears gave up four such goals Thursday.
“We actually came out in a good spot and earned two opportunities on the power play,” Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said. “After that, we couldn’t get going again.”
Sam Rice scored with 2:29 left in the first period, then Kazumo Sasaki scored with 1:28 left.
When J.J. Grainda scored 1:08 into the second period, the Steel were suddenly up 3-0.
“We had quite a few chances, especially in the second period,” Shaw said. “They were chances that had been going in the last month and a half.”
With 23 seconds left in the second period, Noah Grolnic put the Steel up 4-0.
With 1:48 left in the game, Bryce Monrean, assisted by Kotaro Tsutsumi and Noah Holt, was able to break up the shutout. But Jackson Bisson scored with 34 seconds left for Chippewa.
“Chippewa played hard,” Shaw said. “They have a ton of skill. They zipped the puck around and looked good on the big ice.”
Carter Wishart saved 29 for the Steel. For the Bears, Nils Wallstrom saved 4 of 7 and Bryant Marks stopped 12 of 14.
Steel 5, Brown Bears 1
Chippewa 2 2 1 —5
Kenai River 0 0 1 —1
First period — 1. Chippewa, Rice (Sylvester, Grainda), 17:31; 2. Chippewa, Sasaki (Nielsen), 18:32. Penalties — Chippewa 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 3. Chippewa, Grainda (Sylvester), 1:08; 4. Chippewa, Grolnic (Bisson), 19:37. Penalties — Chippewa 2 for 12:00; Kenai River 2 for 14:00.
Third period — 5. Kenai River, Monrean (Tsutsumi, Holt), 18:12; 6. Chippewa, Bisson (Sasaki), 19:26. Penalties — none.
Shots on goal — Chippewa 5-10-6—21; Kenai River 8-11-11.
Goalies — Chippewa, Wishart (30 shots, 29 saves); Kenai River, Wallstrom (7 shots, 4 saves), Marks (14 shots, 12 saves).