The Fresno (Calif.) Monsters avoided a three-game sweep at the paws of the Kenai River Brown Bears with a 5-2 victory Saturday in North American Hockey League play at the Soldotna Sports Center.
The Bears defeated the Monsters 5-1 on Thursday and 4-1 on Friday, but all along Bears coaches and players insisted Fresno was a very dangerous team.
Saturday, the Monsters proved it as Tomas Sholl, who will be playing at Division I Bowling Green next season even though he will still be age eligible for junior hockey, made a whopping 61 saves to pick up the victory. Evan McCarthy had 24 saves for the Bears.
Kenai River is now 23-24-6 and in third in the West Division, while Fresno is 16-31-6 and in fourth in the division. In Fairbanks, the Ice Dogs completed a three-game sweep of the Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild with a 4-3 victory.
Wenatchee now leads the division with 78 points, while Fairbanks has 75. If the Ice Dogs pass the Wild, Kenai River would have to play Wenatchee in the first round of the playoffs.
Bryan Hodges put Kenai River up 1-0 in the first period Saturday, but Trevor Husch equalized for the Monsters with the lone goal of the second.
The Monsters rapidly took control of the game in the third period, as Karl Andersen, Mitchell Snyder and Justin Plate scored in the first 5:35 of the period for a 4-1 lead. Brad LeLievre cut it to 4-2 with a power-play goal with 9:27 to play, but Matt Salituro iced it with an empty-net goal at the buzzer.
The Bears host the Wild at 7:05 Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the sports center. Kenai River has just seven games left in the regular season.
Monsters 5, Brown Bears 2
Fresno 0 1 4 —5
Kenai River 1 0 1 —2
First period — 1. Kenai River, Hodges (Duwe, Bushinski), 14:46. Penalties — Fresno 5 for 16:00; Kenai River 6 for 18:00.
Second period — 2. Fresno, Husch (un.), 10:49. Penalties — Fresno 3 for 6:00; Kenai River 4 for 8:00.
Third period — 3. Fresno, Andersen (Sherer, Salituro), pp, 0:35; 4. Fresno, Snyder (Grahl, Husch), 0:47; 5. Fresno, Plate (Fuller, Wells), 5:35; 6. Kenai River, LeLievre (Zulkanycz, Walker), pp, 10:33; 7. Fresno, Salituro (un.), en, 20:00.
Shots on goal — Fresno 9-14-6—29; Kenai River 26-14-23—63.
Goalies — Fresno, Sholl (63 shots, 61 saves); Kenai River, McCarthy (28 shots, 24 saves).
Power plays — Fresno 1 for 8; Kenai River 1 for 7.