The Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the Fresno (Calif.) Monsters 6-2 on Sunday at the Soldotna Sports Center in North American Hockey League action.
The Brown Bears won the three-game set with the Monsters at the sports center 2-1.
That puts Kenai River at third place in the West Division with a 5-3-3 record, good for 13 points. Fresno is last with 11 points, while the Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild led with 19 points and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs are second with 13 points.
Kenai River will get its first look at the Wild on Thursday at 7:05 p.m., when Wenatchee comes to the sports center. The teams also play Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, the Bears proved their offensive firepower by lighting the lamp six times in 30 shots against Tomas Sholl, who has committed to Division I Bowling Green State University. Sholl was in net when the Bears lost 3-2 on Saturday.
“Out of all the games we’ve face him, this is the most goals we have scored on him,” Kenai River assistant Kyle Bailey said. “He is a very good goalie.
“It shows the offensive skill we possess this season. Six goals against a Division I caliber goalie is very good.”
Matt Seidel led the Bears on offense, collecting a goal and two assists. Seidel had seven points in the three-game series to run his total to a team-leading 14 for the season.
“He played great all around the net,” Bailey said. “Anytime he had an opportunity, it ended up in the back of the net.”
Lucas Kohls and Alex Jackstadt were on Seidel’s line. Kohls had a goal and an assist, while Jackstadt had the game-winning goal. His first NAHL goal came Friday against Fresno and also was a game-winner.
Seidel got the scoring started in the first period when he netted a power-play goal. The Bears would excel on special teams all night, going 2 for 7 with the extra man, and holding Fresno to 0 for 3 while also getting a short-handed tally.
Fresno’s Mikhail Bushinski scored late in the first period and early in the second period to put the Monsters up 2-1.
Bailey said the coaching staff wanted the Bears to play with more energy after the first period.
“We brought more energy and speed in the second period,” Bailey said. “They had an early goal in the second period that could bring a lot of teams down, but I think that got our guys going a bit.”
The Bears would score the last five goals of the game. Conor Deal, Jackstadt and Brad LeLievre scored before the end of the second period, while Ansel Duesenberg and Kohls scored in the third period.
Bailey said LeLievre had a great weekend.
“He was probably one of our overall best players,” Bailey said. “Not with net points, but with getting the team going. He brought a lot of energy every shift.”
The coach added that Connor Deal and Zack Zulkanycz also played a strong game as part of the LeLievre line.
Sean Healy made 35 saves to get his first NAHL victory, improving to 1-2-1. Healy had not played since Sept. 15 due to the recent hot streak of Gustaf Johannson, but he was up to the task of beating a Division I goalie.
Bailey said the 16-year-old Healy also has the potential to sign a Division I deal one day.
The Bears now turn their attention to the Wild, who were undefeated until getting a loss, win and a shootout loss in Fairbanks this weekend.
“We’re looking forward to playing them a lot,” Bailey said. “We know they are one of the best teams in the league this year.”
Brown Bears 6, Monsters 2
Fresno 1 1 0 —2
Kenai River 1 3 2 —6
First period — 1. Kenai River, Seidel (Kohls, Davidson), pp, 9:37; 2. Fresno, Bushinski (Herlofsky, Andersen), 16:51. Penalties — Fresno 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 3. Fresno, Bushinski (Snyder, Sherer), 0:33; 4. Kenai River, Deal (LeLievre, Walker), pp, 4:05; 5. Kenai River, Jackstadt (Shand, Seidel), 4:18; 6. Kenai River, LeLievre (Wasell), 10:41. Penalties — Fresno 3 for 9:00; Kenai River 3 for 9:00.
Third period — 7. Kenai River, Duesenberg (Davidson), 5:52; 8. Kenai River, Kohls (Seidel), sh, 11:09. Penalties — Fresno 4 for 8:00; Kenai River 2 for 12:00.
Goalies — Fresno, Sholl (30 shots, 24 saves); Kenai River, Healy (37 shots, 35 saves).
Shots on goal — Fresno 8-9-20—37; Kenai River 6-15-9—30.