The Kenai River Brown Bears dropped a 3-1 decision to the Fresno (Calif.) Monsters on Sunday in California.
The Bears outshot the Monsters 35-16 in the game and held a 1-0 lead until 11:38 was left in the game. Kenai River also skated six-on-three for the bulk of the final two minutes, but could not score.
“I’m embarrassed,” Kenai River coach Oliver David said. “It might be the worst loss I’ve had here. You know we’ve had some bad losses, but this is the worst loss that I feel in my body.”
The Bears fall to 14-16-4, while Fresno moves to 10-17-5. In the North American Hockey League West Division, Wenatchee (Wash.) leads with 51 points, Fairbanks has 47 points, Kenai River has 32 points and Fresno has 25 points.
The Bears took a 1-0 lead 15:09 into the game when Brad LeLievre scored on an assist from Conor Deal.
After a scoreless second period, Karl Anderson tied the game with 11:38 left.
“We did not take care of our zone in the last 10 minutes of the game,” David said.
Matt Salituro scored with 6:12 left and Trevor Husch scored on the power play with 5:25 left for a 3-1 lead.
With 2:17 left, Fresno took a penalty. David called timeout and pulled the goalie, creating a six-on-four. With 1:46 to play, Fresno took another penalty, setting up six-on-three action until the final 17 seconds.
“We had three faceoffs during the six on three, and they were able to clear the zone right off the faceoffs,” David said. “That’s unfathomable.
“It’s completely unacceptable that we were not competing hard enough to keep the puck in their zone.”
Despite taking the loss, David said Bears goalie Evan McCarthy did a decent job in making 13 saves because Fresno had some great chances late.
Macauley Haight had 34 saves for the Monsters.
David also said Brad Duwe and Ryan Walker did a good job competing.
The team has been sick lately, but David said that is not an excuse for the play in the final 10 minutes.
“In reality, we were able to deal with it for 50 minutes,” David said. “I think each one of the players could have given two more minutes each.”
The Bears face Springfield (Ill.) on Friday and Saturday at the Soldotna Sports Center at 7:30 p.m. The Bears were last at home Dec. 1.
“If our guys are not motivated to prove a point when they come back to town we’ve got more things to worry about than I realized,” David said.
Monsters 3, Brown Bears 1
Kenai River 1 0 0 —1
Fresno 0 0 3 —3
First period — 1. Kenai River, LeLievre (Deal), 15:09. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Fresno 3 for 6:00.
Second period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Fresno 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 2. Fresno, Andersen (McDowell, Herlofsky), 8:22; 3. Fresno, Salituro (Snyder), 13:48; 4. Fresno, Husch (Sucher, Herlofsky), pp, 14:35. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Fresno 4 for 8:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 14-8-13—35; Fresno 3-4-9—16.
Goalies — Kenai River, McCarthy (16 shots, 13 saves); Fresno, Haight (35 shots, 34 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 7; Fresno 1 for 4.