The Kenai River Brown Bears were shut out for the second consecutive game in the first round of the North American Hockey League playoffs, losing to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs 4-0 on Saturday night at the Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks.
The loss means the Bears are now 0-11 in playoff games, and 0-8 against Fairbanks in the playoffs.
The Brown Bears will be hoping to extend the series next Friday night at home, as the Ice Dogs travel down to play at the Soldotna Sports Center at 7:30 p.m. If Fairbanks wins that game, they win the series. If Kenai River wins that game, then game four will be played Saturday night, same time and place.
Kenai head coach Oliver David said Fairbanks has been able to take advantage of every opportunity it can find.
“We gave them everything we had for two games, and it’s pretty identical to last year,” David said. “We have made some strides, and have had a great regular season. The playoff push was exciting for us, the fans, and everybody, and you hear about building your team for a playoff run, but everyone loses except one team.”
Kenai River was swept by Fairbanks one year ago, and hopes to prevent that from happening again.
“It’s highly competitive, and it’s something we need to keep in mind all week, and prepare for something we haven’t done at all, which is win a playoff game,” David said.
Tayler Munson of Fairbanks opened the scoring 13 minutes, 26 seconds, into the first period with an assist from Alec Hadjukovich and Garret Clemment, and the Ice Dogs cruised from there, scoring twice in the second period and once more in the third, with goals from Justin Woods, Anton Racklin and Garret Clemment.
Brett Lubanski performed well for the Bears, as he produced nine of Kenai River’s 23 total shots on goal.
“Lubanksi definitely looks like a player that belongs here,” David said. “Ramsey looked good too, his speed is unmatched. There’s times he is dictating a play, and it’s hard to keep up with him.
“Lubanksi was doing his job, and we set up on the power play, and had several chances.”
Kenai goalie Austin Severson managed to save 26 of 30 total shots sent his way. Fairbanks goalie Alex Fons saved all 23 of Kenai River’s attempts.
Ice Dogs 4, Brown Bears 0
Fairbanks 1 2 1 —4
Kenai River 0 0 0 —0
First period — 1. Fairbanks, Munson (Hadjukovich, Clemment), 13:26. Penalties — Fairbanks 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 2. Fairbanks, Woods (Romo, Levin), 12:19. 3. Fairbanks, Racklin (Hadjukovich, Levin), pp, 16:19. Penalties — Fairbanks 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 4. Fairbanks, Clemment (Munson, Hadjukovich), 13:54. Penalties — Fairbanks 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Fairbanks 14-7-9—30; Kenai River 10-6-7—23.
Goalies — Fairbanks, Fons (23 shots, 23 saves); Kenai River, Severson (30 shots, 26 saves).
Power plays — Fairbanks 1 for 4; Kenai River 0 for 3.