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Wallstrom backstops Bears to victory

The visiting Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the Wisconsin Windigo 4-3 on Friday in North American Hockey League action.

The Bears moved to 5-3-0-0 with the victory over the Midwest Division rival, while the Windigo fell to 2-5-0-0.

Kenai River won for consecutive games for the first time this season. After every previous victory this season, the Bears had lost the next game while giving up five or more goals.

“I don’t think we were on our ‘A’ game tonight,” Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said. “I think we were better in the third period hanging on for the win.

“To gut one out even when we weren’t at our best, I’ll take that as a positive.”

Shaw said goalie Nils Wallstrom was the difference in the win. He made 36 saves, while Maxwell Beckford stopped 21 for the Windigo.

According to Shaw, Wallstrom stopped four breakaways in the first period, plus a penalty shot. The coach also said the Bears lost the shot count because they got into penalty trouble.

“He certainly was the difference maker tonight,” Shaw said. “I laughed when I told some of the D, ‘We all owe Nils a steak dinner after this one.’”

Thanks to Wallstrom, the Bears were able to go up 2-0 in the first period. Ashton Christmas scored on an assist from Luke Anderson and Casper Conradsson Kelvgaard scored on an assist from Ben Monson.

Anderson and Conradsson Kelvgaard got their first NAHL goals.

“We had multiple guys get first goals tonight,” Shaw said. “In this league, it takes depth to find a way to get it done.”

The Windigo’s Zachary Cline cut it to 2-1 headed to the second, but Ryan Finch, assisted by Anderson and Monson, put Kenai River back up by two. Cameron Boche scored short-handed to cut it to 3-2 headed to the third.

Garrett Drotts, assisted by Finch and Conradsson Kelvgaard, got the Bears back up by two before Will Schumacher cut it to 4-3 with 11:34 to play.

Shaw said it was neat playing in Eagle River Stadium, which was constructed mainly of wood in 1925, is the first indoor hockey arena in the state of Wisconsin and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Attendance was listed at 349.

“They had a decent crowd and it was pretty rowdy considering how many penalties were on both sides,” Shaw said. “You can’t complain about a crowd and a barn like that.”

The Bears play there again tonight at 4 p.m. AKDT.

Friday

Brown Bears 4, Windigo 3

Kenai River 2 1 1 —4

Wisconsin 1 1 1 —3

First period — 1. Kenai River, Christman (Anderson), 8:42; 2. Kenai River, Conradsson Kelvgaard (Monson), 18:45; 3. Wisconsin, Cline (Widlund, DiMaggio), 19:48. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00.

Second period — 4. Kenai River, Finch (Anderson, Monson), 11:38; 5. Wisconsin, Boche (Begley, Widlund), sh, 16:53. Penalties — Kenai River 4 for 10:00; Wisconsin 5 for 18:00.

Third period — 6. Kenai River, Drotts (Finch, Conradsson Kelvgaard), 3:54; 7. Wisconsin, Schumacher (Mickel, Mahony), sh, 8:26. Penalties — Kenai River 4 for 8:00; Wisconsin 2 for 22:00.

Shots on goal — Kenai River 11-8-6—25; Wisconsin 8-20-11—39.

Goalies — Kenai River, Wallstrom (39 shots, 36 saves); Wisconsin, Beckford (25 shots, 21 saves).

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