The Kenai River Brown Bears lost 3-0 to the host Minnesota Wilderness on Saturday to see their pointless streak stretch to five games.
All five of those games have come during the Midwest swing of a 13-game road trip.
The Brown Bears now have a holiday break before resuming their season at the Keystone (Pennsylvania) Ice Miners on Dec. 30.
“It’s a long season for everybody, so time with friends and family is an important part because of the distance our guys travel and we travel as coaches,” Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant said. “On behalf of our organization, I’d just like to wish all the fans, staff and family a happy holiday season.
“We look forward to getting back on the ice at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.”
The Bears fall to 11-18-1 and are in last place in the North American Hockey League Midwest Division, three points behind the Minnesota Magicians.
The Wilderness move to 17-7-4 and are in second in the Midwest.
“It hasn’t all come together yet, but we feel if they keep working it will,” Beauparlant said. “The reality of it is we are three points out of a playoff spot with a game in hand at the halfway point.”
After a first period with no scoring or penalties, things picked up later in the second period when Alex Toscano scored for the Wilderness with 5:02 left. Darian Romanko added a power-play goal with 2:47 left in the second.
Beauparlant said the long scoreless stretch was key. He said the Bears had two power plays during that time and did not cash in.
“The difference was special teams,” he said. “They scored one power-play goal, and we had two opportunities when it was 0-0.”
Niklas Lehtimaki then made it 3-0 just 4:16 into the third period.
Alec Derks had 27 saves for the Bears, while Ryan Anderson stopped all 16 shots he saw for the shutout.
“Alec Derks played well in net,” Beauparlant said. “He gave us an opportunity to win and that’s something we haven’t gotten in a while from either goaltender.”
Beauparlant also said the defense was good. The piece missing was scoring from the forwards.
“When we do execute and work hard to get chances, like we did tonight, we have to bury those opportunities,” he said.
Wilderness 3, Brown Bears 0
Kenai River 0 0 0 —0
Minnesota 0 2 1 —3
First period — none. Penalties — none.
Second period — 1. Minnesota, Toscano (Chukarov, Romanko), 14:58; 2. Minnesota, Romanko (Cline), pp, 17:13. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Minnesota 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 3. Minnesota, Lehtimaki (Covach), 4:16. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Minnesota 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 4-7-5—16; Minnesota 11-15-4—30.
Goalies — Kenai River, Derks (30 shots, 27 saves); Minnesota, Anderson (16 shots, 16 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 3; Minnesota 1 for 2.