There wasn't as much scoring, but the result remained the same. Kenai River defeated the Wichita Falls (Texas) Wildcats.
The Brown Bears improved to 3-0 this season against the Wildcats with a 2-1 victory Friday at Kay Yeager Coliseum in Texas in front of 3,476 fans. Kenai River also has 9-3 and 5-2 victories over the Wildcats this year.
The same two teams drop the puck at 4:15 p.m. AST on Saturday.
Kenai River improved to 10-8-3 in the North American Hockey League West Division, good for third place and 23 points. Fairbanks leads with 30 points, Wenatchee (Wash.) has 29 points and Fresno (Calif.) has 15 points.
"It was a well-executed road win," Brown Bears coach Oliver David said.
Wichita Falls ended up with a 33-16 advantage on shots. David said a lot of that was due to power plays. He said the Wildcats shoot a lot on their power play, and Wichita Falls also kept Kenai River's power play from clicking.
The Brown Bears were 0 for 4 on the power play, while the Wildcats were 0 for 5.
The advantage in shots didn't amount to much due to goaltender Gustaf Johannson's 32 saves.
"He was sensational," David said. "He was our player of the game. He kept us in the game in the second period."
The Brown Bears were outshot 13-3 in the second period, but the game was still scoreless.
Just 3 minutes, 25 seconds, into the third period, Matt Seidel changed that. With the aid of Zac Lazzaro, he picked up a turnover, skated out to a two-man breakaway, and buried the chance. The goal left Seidel tied for 10th in the league with 23 points.
With 4:42 left to play, the Bears went up 2-0 with a stirring display of passing. Connor McGovern hit Vincent Stefan with a breakout pass. Stefan then passed to Albin Karlsson, who waited for a defender to slide past him, then he slid the puck to Alex Jackstadt, who was right on the goal line to touch in the goal.
It was McGovern's first game with the team. He comes from the Austin (Minn.) Bruins of the NAHL. Stefan was able to make the trip to Texas after a recent car crash.
"It was four guys with tape-to-tape passes that went 200 feet," David said. "It was unbelievable."
Johannson lost the shutout with 1:57 to play, when George Pagonis scored.
David said the Wildcats did not play a different style than they had used in Soldotna. He said the smaller rink made a difference, and he said Wichita Falls connected the dots better on its home ice.
"It was a tough game," he said. "I'm sure tomorrow's game will be even tougher."
David said the defensemen did a good job blocking shots, and gave particular kudos to Ryan Walker and Carson Vance.
Brown Bears 2, Wildcats 1
First period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Wichita Falls 2 for 4:00.
Second period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Wichita Falls 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 1. Kenai River, Seidel (Lazzaro), 3:25; 2. Kenai River, Jackstadt (Karlsson, Stefan), 15:18; 3. Wichita Falls, Pagonis (Farmer), 18:03. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 8-3-5—16; Wichita Falls 7-13-13—33.
Goalies — Kenai River, Johansson (33 shots, 32 saves); Wichita Falls, Cowley (16 shots, 14 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 4; Wichita Falls 0 for 5.