The Kenai River Brown Bears resume their chase for a North American Hockey League playoff spot with 7:30 p.m. games tonight and Saturday against the Alaska Avalanche of Palmer at the Soldotna Sports Center.
The Bears enter the series tied with the Fresno (Calif.) Monsters for fourth place in the West Division. The top four teams in the West Division make the playoffs.
Since the Avs and Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild are tied for second in the division 10 points ahead of the Bears and the Monsters, the battle for the last playoff spot is between the Bears and the Monsters.
Kenai River has six games left against the Avs, three games left against the last-place Dawson Creek (British Columbia) Rage, and two games apiece against the Monsters and first-place Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
The Monsters play Wenatchee on Saturday and Sunday in Wenatchee. Fresno has six games left against Wenatchee, two games left against the Avs, two games left against the Bears, and two games left against the Ice Dogs.
The Bears are 3-6-1 against the Avs this year. Last weekend in Palmer, Kenai River lost to the Avs 4-3 in overtime Friday before notching a 5-2 Saturday victory.
The Brown Bears are 2-4 against the Avs at the sports center, where the Bears have put up a 10-13-0 record, versus a 14-7-3 record on the road. Alaska is 15-6-1 at home and 14-9-2 away.
In the recently completed two-game series with the Avs, the Bears broke from a bit of a scoring slump. Forward Marek Hemsky, who has now played in 14 games for the Bears, is starting to get comfortable. He has four goals in the last three games.
Kenai River also got its power play going in the final game against Alaska. The Bears had two power-play goals to break a six-game scoreless streak with the extra man. Kenai River’s power play is ranked 17th in the league.