On Friday night at the Sports Center, the Kenai River Brown Bears gave up multiple breakaways, let the Wichita Falls (Texas) Wildcats score on 40 percent of their power plays, and the Bears only outshot the Wildcats by one.
When a team has offensive firepower like Kenai River, though, on some nights none of those stats matter.
The Brown Bears got two points or more from six players, including two-goal efforts from Brad LeLievre, Lucas Kohls and Ansel Duesenberg, in wiping out the Wildcats 9-3 in North American Hockey League play.
Kenai River moves to 7-5-3, good for 17 points in the West Division. The Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild lead with 25 points, while Fairbanks has 24. The Fresno (Calif.) Monsters are in last with 12.
Wichita Falls, of the South Division, falls to 5-9-2. The same two teams skate Saturday at the sports center at 7:30 p.m.
The Bears' nine-goal outburst on Friday ties them with the defending Robertson Cup champion Texas Tornado for third in the league in goals with 55. It is also the fifth time in 15 games that the Bears have scored five or more goals.
"We score goals in bunches," Kenai River coach Oliver David said. "That's evident to anyone who follows this team.
"Getting at least five goals in 5 of 15 games has never happened here before. It doesn't happen in this league very often."
With so much scoring going on, the last choice for the most important player for the Brown Bears would appear to be the goaltender. But David sang the praises of Gustaf Johansson, who had 23 saves.
"Gustaf was the sole reason we won this game," David said. "He was our backbone."
If not for some stellar work by Johannson and a fluky bounce, the Bears easily could have trailed in the first period instead of taking a 3-0 lead.
Duesenberg scored the first goal of the game when his centering pass bounced into the net off a Wichita Falls defender.
Within a minute, the Wildcats' Jake Townsend was turned away on a point-blank chance after an odd-man rush, then Johansson stuffed Tyler Ledford on a breakaway 30 seconds later.
Alex Jackstadt scored with 4:57 left in the period, then Johansson stopped yet another breakaway from George Pagonis with 50 seconds left in the period.
Kohls then put the Brown Bears up 3-0 just 17 seconds later when he ripped a shot across his body and into the far upper corner.
"That's an NHL shot," David said. "He has a lot of things to work on, but shooting is one of his strengths."
Kohls, who ended the night tied for sixth in the league with 18 points, was at the end of his shift when he scored.
"I was just trying to shoot to get off the ice," he said. "I whiffed the first one so I had to regroup. It was just improv."
From there, the rout was on. Kohls scored again to open the second period, then Brad LeLievre scored twice in the sixth minute of the second period for a 6-0 lead.
Both LeLievre's goals were set up by turnovers and were prime examples of how that line, which also includes Kenai Central product Zack Zulkanycz and Conor Deal, operates.
"Our whole line has great chemistry," said LeLievre, 17. "We have a grinder line. We're all speedy guys and we had a few nice plays with some tic-tac-toe passing."
Still in the second period, the Wildcats cut the gap to 6-2 with a pair of power-play goals and had two more minutes of power play when Matt Seidel dashed hopes of a comeback.
Just 14 seconds after the Wichita Falls goal, the lefty Seidel swooped in for a wraparound, shorthanded tally.
Seidel, now fifth in the league in points with 19, executed the move so quickly and casually that the crowd didn't initially react, perhaps because at this level of hockey wraparounds are rarely executed so cleanly.
"You or I couldn't do that," David said. "He's 6-3. I always say, 'You can't teach reach.'"
Duesenberg and Dylan Meier added goals in the third period for Kenai River.
The Brown Bears showed their four-line depth in the game, getting three goals from the Kohls-Seidel-Lazarro line, two from the Meier-Jackstadt-Albin Karlsson line, two from the LeLievre line, and two from the Duesenberg-Jude Warner-Chris Nuth line.
"We have a team that is deep," Kohls said. "Every line is capable of scoring multiple goals."
David said Wichita Falls, which came into Friday after a win over the Tornado, will be dangerous Saturday. He said the Brown Bears can't continue to give up odd-man rushes.
"We expect a whole different team to come out," LeLievre said. "We have to match their speed."
Brown Bears 9, Wildcats 3
First period — 1. Kenai River, Duesenberg (Warner, Walker), pp, 7:57; 2. Kenai River, Jackstadt (Shand), 15:03; 3. Kenai River, Kohls (un.), 19:27. Penalties — Wichita Falls 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 4. Kenai River, Kohls (Lazzaro, Davidson), 4:25; 5. Kenai River, LeLievre (Zulkanycz), 6:31; 6. Kenai River, LeLievre (Deal, Zulkanycz), 6:57; 7. Wichita Falls, Vosejpka (Oullette, Kucera), pp, 8:58; 8. Wichita Falls, Hemstrom (Tema), pp, 11:57; 9. Kenai River, Seidel (Kohls), sh, 12:05. Penalties — Wichita Falls 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 5 for 20:00.
Third period — 9. Kenai River, Duesenberg (Davidson), 8:24; 10. Wichita Falls, Dau (Hemstrom), 9:49; 11. Kenai River, Meier (Vance, Lazzaro), 18:51. Penalties — Wichita Falls 5 for 10:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Wichita Falls 5-13-8—26; Kenai River 7-11-9—27.
Goalies — Wichita Falls, Cowley (27 shots, 18 saves); Kenai River, Johansson (26 shots, 23 saves).
Power plays — Wichita Falls 2 for 5; Kenai River 1 for 5.