The Kenai River Brown Bears dropped a 4-3 decision to the Dawson Creek (British Columbia) Rage on Friday in North American Hockey League action.
The Bears dropped to fifth place in the West Division with the loss after Fresno (Calif.) picked up a victory Friday.
Kenai River is now 21-17-2, while the last-place Rage are 9-29-2.
The Brown Bears could not recover from four unanswered goals.
Marek Hemsky gave Kenai River a 1-0 lead in the first period with his first career goal for the Bears. Brett Lubanski and Chris Blessing had assists.
Then the Rage began taking it to the Bears and goalie Gabe Grunwald, who was making his second start for Kenai River.
Ryan Matthews, who would notch a hat trick, tied the game with 1:50 left in the second period.
By the 5:06 mark of the second period, the Rage had a 4-1 edge as Matthews scored two more goals and Jade McMullen added another.
“We had our new backup goalie in net and he was a little shaky,” Kenai River coach Oliver David said. “He had some issues in there.
“In his defense, our team didn’t really play that sound in front of him. He faced several point-blank shots.”
Grunwald was pulled in favor of Austin Severson after the Rage took the 4-1 lead.
“The game really changed when Severson got in goal,” David said. “It was the exact opposite. The guys really got on their horse and took it to them.”
Bobby Murphy scored with 3:29 left to play in the second on an assist by Vincent Stefan.
The Brown Bears outshot the Rage 12-6 in the final period en route to a 41-32 advantage for the game. The team only solved Rage goalie Edward Dyson once in the third period, though.
With 4:10 left, Zac Lazzaro scored a power-play goal on assists from Chris Nuth and Alex Frere. The goal continued two positive trends for the Bears — the Lazzaro-Nuth-Frere line stayed hot and Kenai River scored for the second straight night on the power play.
Severson was called upon to make just eight saves in his time in net.
The Bears wrap up a seven-game road trip Saturday with a 6 p.m. AST game against the Rage. Kenai River is 3-2-1 on the trip thus far.
Rage 4, Brown Bears 3
First period — 1. Kenai River, Hemsky (Lubanski, Blessing), 7:44; 2. Dawson Creek, Matthews (Petrick, McCallum), 18:10. Penalties — none.
Second period — 3. Dawson Creek, McMullen (Mueller), 7:34; 4. Dawson Creek, Matthews (Turnbull), 13:17; 5. Dawson Creek, Matthews (Fellnermayr, Ripley), pp, 14:54; 6. Kenai River, Murphy (Stefan), 16:31. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Dawson Creek 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 7. Kenai River, Lazzaro (Nuth, Frere), pp, 15:50. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Dawson Creek 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 11-18-12—41; Dawson Creek 8-18-6—32.
Goalies — Kenai River, Grunwald (24 shots, 20 saves), Severson (8 shots, 8 saves); Dawson Creek, Dyson (41 shots, 38 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 1 for 2; Dawson Creek 1 for 2.