The Kenai River Brown Bears lost another 3-2 game to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Saturday night at the Ice Dipper Arena in Fairbanks, though this one was not as close as the loss the Brown Bears had on Friday night.
Fairbanks knocked in a last-second goal on Friday night to barely escaped with the win, and Kenai River is now tied with Fairbanks in the Era Alaska Cup at three wins apiece.
Fairbanks is a close second in the North American West division standings with 40 points, only four behind Wenatchee (Wash.), and a 20-8 record. Kenai River currently is sitting third in the West division with a 12-12-4 record and 28 points.
On Saturday, it was Kenai River’s Albin Karlsson scoring first with a goal just over six minutes through the first period.
“Albin had a great goal, he got the puck off a turnover and ripped it into the bottom right corner,” Kenai River assistant coach Nick Shackford said. Kenai River edged Fairbanks 17-16 on shots on goal in the first period.
Fairbanks’ Colton Wolter evened the contest with a goal almost ten minutes later, but Bryan Hodges answered back with a goal 47 seconds later on a two-on-one breakaway, his first of the season.
“We came out on fire, had a very good first period, and got a few chances in the first,” Shackford said. “In the second period, we didn’t play bad, they definitely executed, but we didn’t get the breaks to go our way.”
Nick Hinz tied the game up again for Fairbanks 4:06 into the second frame, and the Ice Dogs eventually took the lead off the game winner from Devin Loe 3:24 into the third period. Shackford noted that it seemed as Kenai River lost some power and speed late in the game.
“It was two evenly matched teams, in my opinion,” Shackford said. “This comes at a time right before we go on break and we can look at it two ways. We want to peak at the right time, and it would’ve been nice to get a couple points out of this weekend, but we’ll use the holiday break to go back and work on a few things to get better.”
On Friday night, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs defeated the Kenai River Brown Bears 3-2 on a last-second goal at the Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks in front of 2,242 fans.
With 23 seconds left in the game, the Bears faced a faceoff in their own zone. Kenai River won the faceoff and skated out to a two-on-one, but couldn’t convert. Fairbanks stormed down the ice on a two-on-two and threw the puck at the net. Garret Clemment knocked it in just in time for the win.
“The guys are pretty upset right now,” Kenai River assistant Kyle Bailey said. “They’re not too happy with the loss. Me and (head coach) Oliver (David) were pleased with the effort they put out. They did everything we told them to. They did enough to win.”
It was a given that Fairbanks would come out strong after getting swept by Kenai River at the Soldotna Sports Center, and the Ice Dogs did not disappoint.
“We knew they would come out flying, and I thought we did a very good job, especially early in the first period, of weathering the storm,” Bailey said.
The first period ended scoreless. Jake Bushey, on assists from Zac Lazzaro and Dylan Meier, got the Bears on the board 5 minutes, 50 seconds, into the second period. Bushey fired in a shot from the point.
Devin Loe tied it at 1 for Fairbanks on the power play with 8:41 left in the second.
“We did get into some penalty trouble late in the second period, and that continued into the third period,” Bailey said. “Anytime you give them seven power plays, they are going to get goals.”
Fairbanks was 1 for 7 on the power play, while the Bears were 0 for 5.
Carson Vance, on assists from Alec Butcher and Alex Jackstadt, gave the Bears the lead 5:23 into the third period. Jackstadt was upended while carrying the puck and it went to Vance, who threw it at the net and scored.
Patrick Newell scored for Fairbanks with 7:46 left to set up Clemment’s heroics.
Gustaf Johansson had 19 saves for the Bears, while Kevin Aldridge had 14 for Fairbanks.
“Gustaf played a strong game in front of us, and the D played a strong game in front of him,” Bailey said.
Bailey said the Bears are ready for Saturday’s game.
“Our team is just very excited to get back on the ice,” Bailey said. “They believe they deserved to win that game.”
Ice Dogs 3, Brown Bears 2
Fairbanks 1 1 1 —3
Kenai River 2 0 0 —2
First period — Kenai River, Karlsson (Butcher, Jackstadt), 6:24; 2. Fairbanks, Wolter (Newell, Hinz), 16:03; 3. Kenai River, Hodges (Karlsson, Bushey), 16:50. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Fairbanks 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 4. Fairbanks, Hinz (Wolter, Clemment), 4:06. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Fairbanks 2 for 4:00.
Third period — Fairbanks, Loe (Madry, Wendling), 3:24. Penalties — none.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 17-9-6—32; Fairbanks 16-12-8—37.
Goalies — Kenai River, Johansson (36 shots, 33 saves); Fairbanks, Aldridge (32 shots, 30 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 3; Fairbanks 0 for 2.
Ice Dogs 3, Brown Bears 2
Kenai River 0 1 1 —2
Fairbanks 0 1 2 —3
First period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Fairbanks 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 1. Kenai River, Bushey (Lazzaro, D. Meier), 5:50; 2. Fairbanks, Loe (Angus, Rall), pp, 11:19. Penalties — Kenai River 7 for 22:00; Fairbanks 6 for 12:00.
Third period — 3. Kenai River, Vance (Butcher, Jackstadt), 5:23; 4. Fairbanks, Newell (Lee, Campbell), 12:14; 5. Fairbanks, Clemment (Loe, Rose), 20:00. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Fairbanks 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 5-3-8—16; Fairbanks 6-10-6—22.
Goalies — Kenai River, Johansson (22 shots, 19 saves); Fairbanks, Aldridge (16 shots, 14 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 5; Fairbanks 1 for 7.