Aiden Westin of the Anchorage Wolverines scored two goals in the final 54 seconds of the game to lift his team to a 3-2 victory over the Kenai River Brown Bears on Saturday in North American Hockey League play at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
“Honestly, we didn’t deserve to win a hockey game,” Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said. “We were outplayed 45 minutes. We had no heartbeat most of the night.
“But two goals in 35 seconds, that lets everybody down really bad.”
Westin, who is from Anchorage and committed to play Division I hockey at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, scored with 54 seconds left in the game on assists from Layten Liffrig and Hayden Hennen to tie it at 2.
With 21 seconds left, Westin struck again, this time assisted by fellow Anchorage skaters Cooper Morris and Cameron Morris.
Amazingly, the game may not even be the most dramatic win for the Wolverines this season. In late October, Anchorage was down 4-0 to the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues entering the final 11 minutes of the game, but scored four goals to send it to overtime, then won in a shootout.
Friday’s dramatics robbed the Bears of needed points in the Midwest Division standings and Club 49 Cup.
Kenai River is 15-10-1-0, good for 31 points. With a win, the Bears would have been in a tie for first with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Kenai River is now in third, just one point ahead of a pair of teams tied for fourth. The Wolverines are 10-10-4-1.
In the Club 49 Cup, Anchorage now has 12 points, while Fairbanks has nine and the Bears have five.
The same two teams play at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the sports complex.
Anchorage took the lead in the first period on a goal by Kory DiPonio, assisted by Kade Shea and Soldotna’s Trent Powell. Owen Hanson, assisted by Noah Holt and Casper Conradsson Kelvgaard, had it tied headed to the second period.
Kenai River’s Nick Stevens, assisted by Luke Hause and Kenai’s Parker Lockwood, had the lone goal of the second period.
Eino Rissanen had 27 saves for Anchorage, while Nils Wallstrom stopped 29 for the Bears.
Wolverines 3, Brown Bears 2
Anchorage 1 0 2 —3
Kenai River 1 1 0 —2
First period — 1. Anchorage, DiPonio (Shea, Powell), 3:05; 2. Kenai River, Hanson (Holt, Conradsson Kelvgaard), 7:39. Penalties — Anchorage 4 for 29:00; Kenai River 5 for 12:00.
Second period — 3. Kenai River, Stevens (Hause, Lockwood), 3:06. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 4. Anchorage, Westin (Liffrig, Hennen), 19:06; 5. Anchorage, Westin (Co. Morris, Ca. Morris), 19:39. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Anchorage 12-14-6—32; Kenai River 10-10-9—29.
Goalies — Anchorage, Rissanen (29 shots, 27 saves); Kenai River, Wallstrom (32 shots, 29 saves).