The Kenai River Brown Bears fell in a 3-0 hole before losing 4-2 to the Alaska Avalanche of Palmer on Thursday at the Soldotna Sports Center in North American Hockey League action.
The Brown Bears, losers of four straight, play the Avalanche again at 7 p.m. tonight at the sports center. The game time has been moved up because the Brown Bears are leaving on a road trip right after the game.
The Avalanche improve to 26-12-3 and remain in first place in the West Division. The Brown Bears drop to 18-14-1, and are in fifth place in the West, three points out of a playoff spot.
Kenai River outshot the Avalanche 20-19, but Austin Severson made 14 saves on 18 shots before departing after the second period. Garrett Patrick played the third period and had one save on one shot.
“I think our goaltending was not sufficient,” Brown Bears head coach Oliver David said. “We had seven shots on us in the second period, and three goals against.
“That’s a problem.”
This is the first time this season the Brown Bears have lost four straight. David said the team also never lost four straight last season.
“It forces us to make changes that are going to shake up the team,” David said.
David did add that the Brown Bears have had a tough schedule of late. The team’s last 11 games have been against the Avalanche and Fairbanks Ice Dogs, the top two teams in the West.
“We’re not a first-place team at this point, and that’s who we are facing every night,” David said.
He did see some positive signs. He said the line of Chris Nuth, Alex Frere and Zac Lazzaro is playing well. Nuth has a goal in the third period, while Frere had a goal in the second.
The line has been together for three games, and has scored in two of those games.
David also said Jake Davidson, Vincent Stefan and Kellen Wasell are working hard and rising to the challenge.
Avalanche 4, Brown Bears 2
Alaska 1 3 0 —4
Kenai River 0 1 1 —2
First period — 1. Alaska, Wright (un.), 5:22. Penalties — Alaska 2 for 6:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Alaska, Janssen (Christianson, Nelson), pp, 2:39; 3. Alaska, Watt (Novakovich, Christianson), pp, 9:03; 4. Kenai River, Frere (Nuth), 14:40; 5. Alaska, Hesse (Nelson), 17:48. Penalties — Alaska 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 4 for 8:00.
Third period — 6. Kenai River, Nuth (Walker), 9:58. Penalties — Alaska 5 for 10:00; Kenai River 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal — Alaska 11-7-1—19; Kenai River 10-8-2—20.
Goalies — Alaska, Kulmanovsky (20 shots, 18 saves); Kenai River, Severson (18 shots, 14 saves), Bourbeau (1 shot, 1 save).
Power plays — Alaska 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 0 for 7.