The Kenai River Browns Bears lost 4-3 to the Oklahoma Warriors on Wednesday at the North American Hockey League Showcase in Minnesota.
The Bears grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first period on the defending Robertson Cup champions, but could not make it hold up in falling to 1-1-0-0 on the season. Oklahoma is 1-0-0-0.
Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said the goal is always to win and get two points. At the same time, he said this experience against a team that went undefeated in the playoffs last season and returns eight players and a head coach could be valuable.
“Giving up four straight and going down, our group’s going to have to figure out how to get through that,” Shaw said. “Hopefully, this will be good for our group going forward. It’s a process.”
In the first period, Carson Triggs, assisted by Nick Stevens and Rylan Yates; Blake Norris; and Hayden Walters, assisted by Stevens, gave the Bears a 3-0 lead.
Shaw said the Bears were using a strong forecheck to get turnovers in the first period.
“We knew they were a well-coached team and we knew they would continue to push throughout the game,” Shaw said. “I felt like our group took the foot off the gas and slowly but surely allowed them to get back in the game.”
Brayden Berg, Bryce Howard and Max Dronen scored in the second period to make the game 3-3 headed to the third period.
The Bears faced four power plays in the first period and one early in the second, scoring short-handed and giving up a power play strike.
The Warriors faced two power plays in the second and four in the third, scoring short-handed.
Shaw said it’s natural special teams won’t be totally clicking early in the season. Even with that taken into consideration, he said the Bears power play was not good Wednesday.
With 9:59 left in the third, Kaden Nelson scored short-handed for a 4-3 lead.
“We made a good push at the end of the third period, but it was too late,” Shaw said.
Daniel Duris saved 33 for the Warriors, while Peter Wickstrom Stumer stopped 24 for the Bears.
“I thought he played all right,” Shaw said of Stumer. “I think he probably wants a couple back.”
Kenai River plays the Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Tomahawks at 5:15 p.m. AKDT on Thursday.