The Kenai River Brown Bears lost 4-2 on Thursday to the Aberdeen (South Dakota) Wings at the North American Hockey League Showcase in Minnesota.
The Bears fall to 1-5-0 with the loss, while the Wings moved to 1-1-0.
“We’ve been competitive,” Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant said. “We’re right there.
“It’s going to take a great effort to get over the hump, but we believe in our guys. We know as long as they stay together and are playing for each other, things will turn.”
As has been the case in three of their five losses, the Bears had the lead at one point Thursday.
Gunnar Goodmanson had his first goal of the season to put the Bears out front. Jack Gessert and Jordan Hank assisted on the power-play strike.
But Aberdeen came back with goals by Ethan Stewart and Gavin Payne to take the lead.
With 10 minutes, 7 seconds, left in the second period, Evan Butcher, assisted by Dylan McArthur, tied the game.
But about two minutes later Tyler Bossert scored the deciding goal for Aberdeen. Payne would score on the empty net with 30 seconds left in the game.
The Bears fell to 0-2 at the NAHL Showcase. They continue at the event today at 1:15 p.m. ADT against the Wichita Falls (Texas) Wildcats and Saturday at 3:15 p.m. ADT with a game against the Austin (Minnesota) Bruins.
“Our guys showcased themselves well,” Beauparlant said. “It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to find two points in either of the two games.
“We just got stuck on two goals and were not able to find the timely third goal.”
Brian Baker, who was recently named the Easton Midwest Division Star of the Week, had 36 saves for the Bears, while Peter Thome made 21 saves for the Wings.
“Baker was solid in the net,” Beauparlant said. “Our goaltenders have been really good.”
The coach said Jack Nickels had his best game of the year at defense, while Jason Lem also was solid on the back line.
Beauparlant added that Gessert was solid again, and the best line was Joey Sardina, Butcher and Cameron Cook.
“We’re still learning to close a game out,” Beauparlant said. “It’s all learning at this stage.
“We’ve got a lot of guys playing minutes that haven’t played in this league.”
The Bears have released Ashton Amaya. He will play for the Richmond (Virginia) Generals of the Tier III United States Premier Hockey League.
Wings 4, Brown Bears 2
Aberdeen 1 2 1 —4
Kenai River 1 1 0 —2
First period — 1. Kenai River, Goodmanson (Gessert, Hank), pp, 3:55; 2. Aberdeen, Stewart (Hammer), pp, 5:36. Penalties — Aberdeen 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 3. Aberdeen, Payne (Roo, DeYoung), pp, 5:58; 4. Kenai River, Butcher (McArthur), 9:53; 5. Aberdeen, Bossert (Durgan, Cook), 11:52. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 6. Aberdeen, Payne (un.), en, 0:30. Penalties — Aberdeen 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Aberdeen 11-19-10—40; Kenai River 7-7-9—23.
Goalies — Aberdeen, Thome (23 shots, 21 saves); Kenai River, Baker (39 shots, 36 saves).
Power plays — Aberdeen 2 for 3; Kenai River 1 for 2.