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Wolverines start fast, hold off Brown Bears

The Kenai River Brown Bears lost 4-2 to the Anchorage Wolverines on Friday in North American Hockey League play at Ben Boeke Ice Arena in Anchorage.

A third straight loss since returning to Alaska drops the Bears into a tie for fourth place in the Midwest Division with the Wisconsin Windigo. The Bears are 19-17-1-1 with 40 points. The Wolverines are tied for seventh at 15-13-5-1, good for 36 points.

Anchorage also continues to rule the Club 49 Cup, with 19 points to the 13 of the division-leading Fairbanks Ice Dogs and seven of the Brown Bears.

The same two teams play at 7 p.m. tonight in Anchorage.

Friday’s game was decided in the first period, when Hayden Hennen, Revelin Mack and Fedya Nikolayenya scored for a 3-0 Anchorage lead headed to the second.

“In the first period, to be honest, I thought we dominated the period in terms of play,” Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said. “They happened to have two breakaway goals and one goal off a rebound late in the period.

“It’s a period where you go back and ask, ‘How were we down 3-0?’”

The Bears tried to claw back in the game when Casper Conradsson Kelvgaard, assisted by Ryan Finch and Kotaro Tsutsumi, scored just 48 seconds into the second period.

But within three minutes, Anchorage’s Wilson Dahlheimer had it back to 4-1.

“The game just got tighter,” Shaw said. “It’s hard. We score a goal and give one back right away. It was hard to get any momentum.

“We gotta get back to work.”

Hunter Newhouse, assisted by Hayden Walters and Nick Stevens, scored with 14:45 left in the second, but that was the last goal the game would see.

Kenai River’s Nils Wallstrom and Anchorage’s Shane Soderwall each had 26 saves.

“I think Soderwall made big saves when they needed him to,” Shaw said. “We didn’t have it when we needed it.”

The NAHL announced the rosters for the Top Prospects Tournament this week. The tourney will be Feb. 6 and 7 at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania.

The tournament gives scouts the opportunity to view a bunch of top players in one place. Only players without an NCAA commitment can play, unless they have been identified by NHL Central Scouting as a prospect for the 2023 NHL Draft.

Wallstrom, Finch, Newhouse and Noah Holt of the Brown Bears will play for the Midwest Division.

Friday

Wolverines 4, Brown Bears 2

Kenai River 0 2 0 —2

Anchorage 3 1 0 —4

First period — 1. Anchorage, Hennen (un.), 3:00; 2. Anchorage, Mack (Haula), 14:55; 3. Anchorage, Nikolayenya (Reis, Doran), 19:45. Penalties — Anchorage 2 for 4:00.

Second period — 4. Kenai River, Conradsson Kelvgaard (Finch, L. Anderson), 0:48; 5. Anchorage, Dahlheimer (Reineke, Powell), 3:34; 6. Kenai River, Newhouse (un.), 5:15. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Anchorage 1 for 2:00.

Third period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Anchorage 3 for 6:00.

Shots on goal — Kenai River 9-9-10—28; Anchorage 12-9-9—30.

Goalies — Kenai River, Wallstrom (21 shots, 17 saves); Anchorage, Soderwall (18 shots, 16 saves).

Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 5; Anchorage 0 for 4.

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