The Kenai River Brown Bears dropped to 1-1-0-0 with a 5-1 loss to the Amarillo (Texas) Wranglers on Thursday at the North American Hockey League Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota.
The Wranglers moved to 2-0-0-0 by closing the game with four unanswered goals.
The turning point in the game came just over 2 minutes into the third period with the Wranglers holding a 2-1 lead. The Bears scored what appeared to be the equalizer, but the referees called the goal off.
Kenai River head coach Taylor Shaw said the refs told him the goal was dislodged and the goal was not a continuation of play.
About 2 minutes later, Amarillo scored to go up 3-1, then 45 seconds after that the Wranglers struck again for a 4-1 lead.
“Our guys have to do a better job fighting through adversity,” Shaw said. “I feel like we had them on the ropes when we scored to tie it up. If you don’t stay dialed in, things happen pretty quick.”
Shaw said the Bears did not play as well as in the season opener, a 6-0 victory over the Danbury (Connecticut) Jr. Hat Tricks on Wednesday.
“I think the big thing for us is we kind of got away from the stuff that made us successful yesterday,” Shaw said. “That being said, we were still in a hockey game. It was 2-1 going into the third.”
Amarillo had the lone goal of the first period.
With just over 2 minutes gone in the second period, Hayden Walters tied it on the power play for the Bears on assists from Ben Monson and Nick Ostbloom. Walters already has three goals on the young season.
“I think the big thing for him right now is he’s using his feet to get up and down the ice fairly well and he’s using his body to get in and separate, and as a result of him doing the little things, he’s getting opportunities,” Shaw said.
Carter Clafton made 24 saves for Amarillo, while Nils Wallstrom stopped 33 for the Bears.
“I thought he played pretty well again,” Shaw said of Wallstrom. “He made some big saves. Our guys admitted in the locker room they let him down more than they helped him.”
The Bears finish up play at the Showcase with an 8:30 a.m. AKDT tilt against the Philadelphia Rebels today and a 6:30 a.m. AKDT contest against the Lone Star (Texas) Brahmas on Saturday.
Wranglers 5, Brown Bears 1
Amarillo 1 1 3 —5
Kenai River 0 1 0 —1
First period — 1. Amarillo, McDonald (Zap), 7:44. Penalties — Amarillo 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Kenai River, Walters (Monson, Ostbloom), 2:04; 3. Amarillo, Sofo (Ivey), 4:29. Penalties — Amarillo 3 for 6:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 4. Amarillo, Gingher (Simonovics), 4:30; 5. Amarillo, Zap (Simonovics), 5:15; 6. Amarillo, Faucher (Cleary), 8:48. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Amarillo 10-13-15—38; Kenai River 11-6-8—25.
Goalies — Amarillo, Clafton (25 shots, 24 saves); Kenai River, Wallstrom (38 shots, 33 saves).
Power plays — Amarillo 0 for 5; Kenai River 1 for 4.