Kenai River Brown Bears forward Kotaro Tsutsumi protects the puck from Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel forward Peyton Platter on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Wallstrom, Tsutsumi give Bears good news

The Brown Bears are on break for the holidays, but that hasn’t stopped good news from rolling in for goalie Nils Wallstrom and forward Kotaro Tsutsumi.

Wallstrom, 19, was named the Bauer Midwest Division Star of the Week on Monday. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound goalie from Skelleftea, Sweden, was in net as the Bears swept the Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel on Thursday and Friday to go into the holiday break tied for second place with a record of 18-12-1-0.

Wallstrom now is 11-6-1 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. He earned Midwest Division Star of the Week honors for the third time.

“Nils showed his big game ability all weekend backstopping our group to a road sweep heading into the holiday break,” Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said in a released statement. “We are excited to watch Nils have continued success as we head into the back half of the season.”

Tsutsumi, a 5-8, 150-pound forward from Tokyo, helped Japan to gold in the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division I Group B in Bytom, Poland. Japan beat Ukraine 7-4 on the final day to lock up a spot in next season’s Division IA competition. Tsutsumi had an assist in five games for Japan. He has five goals and seven assists in 22 games for Kenai River this season. He missed the last six games for the Bears to play in the tourney.

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