Thursday: Bears defeat Tomahawks

The Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Tomahawks 4-2 on Thursday at the North American Hockey League Showcase in Minnesota.

The Brown Bears move to 2-1-0-0, while the Tomahawks are 2-2-0-0.

Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said he was happy with the way his team responded to a 4-3 Wednesday loss to the Oklahoma Warriors after having a 3-0 lead after the first period.

“You don’t want to give away points like we did yesterday,” Shaw said. “For our group, I think it was good to get a taste of what that looks like early.

“I think we responded well today and were in control for the majority of the game.”

The Bears, who won the shot count 44-23, grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second period when Owen Hanson scored on an assist from Luke Hause, and Cade Baker scored short-handed on an assist from Dylan Contreras.

The Tomahawks bounced back on a power-play goal from Hayes Hundley and a goal from Will Lawrence.

With 13:01 left in the game, Rylan Yates, assisted by Andy Larson and Joe Manning, put the Bears up 3-2.

“You could hear it down the bench, they were saying, ‘We still have to finish,’” Shaw said. “It was far from over. We got an extra goal in the third period off a nice play.”

With 3:53 left, Marko Giourof, assisted by Hause, put the Bears up 4-2.

Shaw said forward Nick Stevens had a great game, playing all 200 feet of the ice while creating turnovers and drawing penalties.

Conor Sullivan made 21 saves for Kenai River, while Zack Ferris stopped 40 for Johnstown. Sullivan is 2-0-0-0.

Sullivan was 3-20-0 with a 6.70 goals-allowed average and .858 save percentage last season in the British Columbia Hockey League, but the Bears took him with their first pick in the NAHL Draft.

“He’s a kid that if you looked at his stats last year, most people would write him off,” Shaw said. “If you dig a little deeper, which is our job, you see he’s a goalie with a lot of potential in a bad fit. He was seeing 60 shots a game on average.”

The Bears take on the Odessa (Texas) Jackalopes at 1:45 p.m. AKDT Friday.

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