Lately, the Kenai River Brown Bears just can’t seem to close out a game when they have a lead in the third period.
After a win last Saturday put a stop to a five-game losing streak, the Brown Bears fell prey to a Wenatchee Wild comeback in overtime on Thursday that resulted in a 4-3 loss on Thursday night at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Wash.
The loss leaves Kenai River with a 15-19-5 season record and still third in the North American Hockey League West Division standings.
Kenai River coach Oliver David was happy with receiving one point for the overtime loss, but pointed out a few errors in an otherwise well-executed game that cost the team.
“We’ve gotten points in our last two games, and we played another good game tonight, but turnovers cost us,” David said. “It’s a pretty simple recipe. I can literally point to a handful of scenarios that didn’t go our way.”
After a 1-1 tie in the first period, the offensive line unofficially known as Triple-A ‘94 struck early in the second period, as Alec Butcher put a goal in with assists from Alex Jackstadt and Albin Karlsson to give the Bears the lead. In the first period, Kenai River outshot Wenatchee 12-5.
“They were good, that was a positive,” David said. “Another line that produced two goals was Chris Nuth, Matt Seidel and Matt Meier. Unfortunately, they had a couple goals against them as well.”
Six minutes, 49 seconds, into the period, it was Seidel scoring to put Kenai River up 3-1, his 14th goal of the season.
Wenatchee’s Jono Davis closed the gap with an early third-period goal, and with 5:08 left in the game, Max McHugh knotted the game up with a breakaway shot.
“Our defenseman got a shot blocked on the blue line, and we turned the puck over and they got the breakaway,” David said. “Our defense was very good tonight, but it was only about those two goals.”
In the overtime period, it was Wenatchee’s Joe Sullivan knocking in the puck on another breakaway off a turnover that sealed the win for the Wild, only 1:49 into OT. It was McHugh that provided the assist on the game-winner.
Four Brown Bears selected to Prospects Tournament
Four players from the Kenai River Brown Bears have been selected by a panel of coaches to partake in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Troy, Mich., next month.
Bears captain Zac Lazzaro, Seidel, Brad Duwe and Ryan Walker will be making the trip with hopes of landing a Division I commitment. Lazzaro currently has a Division III commitment to Utica College in New York.
Wenatchee leaving NAHL for Canada
The Wild will be leaving the NAHL for the British Columbia Hockey League after this season is over, although the final approval process isn’t expected to take place until April. The move has been approved by USA Hockey, and now the BCHL just needs approval from Hockey Canada.
Kenai River coach Oliver David said the loss of the Wild will certainly change the division.
“Obviously, the landscape of our division will change,” David said. “Assuming they are leaving, it’s all about location, location, location.”
If the Wild do transfer to the BCHL, transportation to games will be greatly facilitated. Instead of flying to games, the team will likely be bussing to contests.
Wild 4, Brown Bears 3, OT
Kenai River 1 2 0 0 —3
Wenatchee 1 0 2 1 —4
First period — 1. Wenatchee, Barber (Davis), sh, 10:41; 2. Kenai River, Nuth (Karlsson), 11:45. Penalties — Kenai River 0; Wenatchee 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 3. Kenai River, Butcher (Jackstadt, Karlsson), 1:49; 4. Kenai River, Seidel (Loewenstein), 6:47. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Wenatchee 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 5. Wenatchee, Davis (Barber, McHugh), 5:29; 6. Wenatchee, McHugh (Barber), 14:52. Penalties — Kenai River 0; Wenatchee 2 for 4:00.
Overtime — 7. Wenatchee, Sullivan (McHugh), 1:49.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 12-7-11-1—31; Wenatchee 5-10-14-2—31.
Goalies — Kenai River, Zelzer (31 shots, 27 saves); Wenatchee, Nichols (31 shots, 28 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 5; Wenatchee 0 for 2.