The Kenai River Brown Bears picked up their first victory of the season Friday, downing the host Springfield (Ill.) Jr. Blues 5-1 in North American Hockey League play.
The Brown Bears are now 1-2-2, while the Jr. Blues are 1-3-1 after dropping their home opener. The same two teams play Saturday at 4 p.m. ADT.
"They were just flat, they are a good team," Kenai River coach Oliver David said. "I think it's no secret that we had a lot of opportunities on the power play and they didn't have any until late in the game."
The Brown Bears finished 2 for 9 with the extra man, while the Jr. Blues were 0 for 5.
But David said the key performance in the game came from Gustaf Johansson in net. He made 34 saves, while Springfield's Matt Leon made 37 saves.
"We got good goaltending tonight," David said. "We've kind of been struggling in net between two goaltenders — one who is young and one from Europe who has never been to America before.
"Johansson kept us in the game. He did exactly what we need from a goaltender."
In the four games the Brown Bears played at the season-opening NAHL Showcase, the Bears were only outshot once.
"To be honest, I thought we could have left the Showcase 3-1," David said. "We've been outshot only once. We've scored enough goals to have won four games, but we've only won one."
David said the Bears are a young team brimming with talent. He said they are one of the three youngest teams in the league.
"Fans can expect a pretty exciting team," David said. "Patience is a virtue for me, that's what I would pass on after being around these guys for a month.
"I've seen some dynamic play, but I've also seen some big-time iffy plays as they learn."
Albin Karlsson has six points after five games, while Lucas Kohls, Zac Lazzaro and Matt Seidel have four points apiece.
David said the team also has a chance to be very deep. Friday, 11 different players had points.
Dylan Meier started the scoring for Kenai River on Friday, and then a Kohls power-play goal gave the Bears a 2-0 lead just 8:16 into the game.
The Bears also owned the second period, with Kirk Van Arkel, Karlsson and Vincent Stefan scoring for a 5-0 lead.
David said the goal in the third period was to get through the first few minutes without giving up a goal.
"A goal in the first few minutes is what it would take to give them a spark and an unbelievable win," David said.
Cody Dixon ruined the shutout just over five minutes into the third.
David also credited the defensemen with a solid game in front of Johansson.
Brown Bears 5, Jr. Blues 1
First period — 1. Kenai River, Meier (Lazzaro, Davidson), 3:09; 2. Kenai River, Kohls (Bushey, Seidel), pp, 8:16. Penalties — Springfield 2 for 6:00.
Second period — 3. Kenai River, Van Arkel (Haverstrom, Meier), 3:58; 4. Kenai River, Karlsson (Kohl, Stefan), pp, 13:15; 5. Kenai River, Stefan (Karlsson, Duesenberg), 16:41. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Springfield 4 for 8:00.
Third period — 6. Springfield, Dixon (Grandov), 5:01. Penalties — Kenai River 4 for 11:00; Springfield 3 for 9:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 22-14-6—42; Springfield 16-7-12—35.
Goalies — Kenai River, Johansson (35 shots, 34 saves); Springfield, Leon (42 shots, 37 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 2 for 9; Springfield 0 for 5.