The Alaska Avalanche of Palmer defeated the Kenai River Brown Bears 4-3 in overtime Friday in North American Hockey League play at Palmer's MTA Events Center.
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs topped the Fresno (Calif.) Monsters 4-3 on Friday, so the Bears gained a point in their quest for a playoff spot.
Kenai River is now 23-20-3, two points behind the fourth-place Monsters in the West Division. The Avs are 29-14-3, two points ahead of third-place Wenatchee (Wash.) and six points behind the division-leading Ice Dogs.
After Kenai River scored twice in the final 3 minutes, 50 seconds, of the game to force overtime, Alaska scored just 29 seconds into overtime in front of 353 fans. Tanner Fahlstedt lit the lamp on an assist from Joe Schmitz.
"Their guy got the puck through Jesse Ramsey's legs," Brown Bears assistant Kyle Bailey said. "That guy doesn't get beat very often one-on-one, but he got beat this time.
"We're obviously not happy about it, but it's good that we got the point. We're not focusing on the loss, we're focusing on the fact we got a point."
Bailey said the Bears were not playing up to speed in the first two periods. Alaska's Wehebe Darge gave his squad the lead just 23 seconds into the contest. Later in the first, Brett Lubanski tied the game on an assist from Vincent Stefan.
In the second period, Alaska's Casey Nelson and Joe Schmitz collected goals to put the Bears in a 3-1 hole.
"In the third period, we just wanted to build off of every shift and get back in the game," Bailey said.
With 3:50 left, Miikael Arkimo scored on assists from Kellen Wasell and Ryan Walker. Arkimo was seeing his first action in over a month due to a concussion.
Just 26 seconds later, the Brown Bears other import forward — Marek Hemsky — evened the score on assists from Raymond Stenehjem and Lubanski. Hemsky scored in his second straight game.
"Hemsky is starting to come around as he gets more accustomed to the North American style of hockey," Bailey said. "Arkimo's got that down already.
"It's good to have everybody back and ready to go."
Bailey said the three goals from forwards Friday were a positive sign after the forwards had just one goal in the team's two previous games.
"A big part of it is driving hard and battling into a tough area," Bailey said. "We've been working on that in practice and we started to do it in the third period."
Bailey said defensive play was satisfactory. Gabe Grunwald made 14 saves on 17 shots, while Austin Severson made nine saves on 10 shots in relief. Nick Kulmanovsky made 18 saves for the Avs.
Kenai River once again did not score on the power play, extending its scoreless streak with the extra man to six games. The Bears are 0-for-25 in that time.
On the flip side, the Bears' penalty kill stayed hot, keeping Alaska without a power-play goal in seven tries.
"It's a trade-off right now," Bailey said. "Hopefully, we can get the power play going and keep the penalty kill where it is at."
The same two teams play Saturday at the MTA Events Center at 7:30 p.m.
Avalanche 4, Brown Bears 3, OT
First period — 1. Alaska, Darge (Hansen), 0:23; 2. Kenai River, Lubanski (Stefan), 6:25. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Alaska 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 3. Alaska, Nelson (un), 0:49; 4. Alaska, Schmitz (Kontny), 11:59. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Alaska 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 5. Kenai River, Arkimo (Wasell, Walker), 16:10; 6. Kenai River, Hemsky (Stenehjem, Lubanski), 16:36. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Alaska 1 for 2:00.
Overtime — 7. Alaska, Fahlstedt (Schmitz), 0:29. Penalties — none.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 8-7-6-0—21; Alaska 7-10-9-1—27.
Goalies — Kenai River, Grunwald (17 shots, 14 saves); Severson (10 shots, 9 saves); Alaska, Kulmanovsky (21 shots, 18 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 5; Alaska 0 for 7.