A slow start was not enough to make up for a quick finish for the Kenai River Brown Bears on Saturday in North American Hockey League action.
The Bears lost 3-2 to the Minnesota Magicians in Richfield, Minn.
Kenai River had a four-game losing streak snapped and fell to 4-3, while Minnesota improved to 3-1-1.
“I didn’t think we came out very hard,” Brown Bears coach Geoff Beauparlant said. “We sustained pressure at times, but they were able to get into the flow of their game.”
The Magicians outshot the Bears 15-10 in the first period and Minnesota’s Colin Hernon had the lone goal of the first 20 minutes.
With 13:13 to play in the second, Conor Deal tied the game on assists from Zack Zulkanycz and Jake Bushey.
Beauparlant said Deal, Zulkanycz and Jack Gessert were playing together on a line for the first time. The coach said the line worked hard and executed all night.
“That first goal created a spark on the bench,” Beauparlant said. “We had kind of a laissez-faire, complacent attitude until then.
“That line had two or three good shifts in a row.”
Will Johnson scored for the Magicians before the end of the second to retake the lead.
In the third, Alec Butcher, on assists from Vincent Stefan and Bushey, had a power-play goal to tie it.
“He’s just a competitor. That guy hates to lose. That whole line hates to lose,” Beauparlant said of Butcher and linemates Albin Karlsson and Sebastian Fuchs.
The coach also said Bushey, with his two assists, continues to impress.
“He’s been our steady guy in the back so far, not to take anything away from anybody else,” Beauparlant said. “We’ve leaned on him a lot while some of the younger guys are still learning.”
The Magicians retook the lead with 5:11 to play when Kyle Krueger scored on a penalty shot.
Beauparlant said goalie Zach Quinn was solid in making 30 saves.
“We absolutely cannot give up 33 shots and expect to be winning a hockey game,” the coach said.
The Bears outshot the Magicians 41-33, holding the Magicians to 18 shots in the final two periods.
The Bears stay on the road to face the Magicians at 2 p.m. ADT today.
Magicians 3, Brown Bears 2
Kenai River 0 1 1 —2
Minnesota 1 1 1 —3
First period — 1. Minnesota, Hernon (Kuchera, Weiss), 17:44. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Kenai River, Deal (Zulkanycz, Bushey), 6:47; 3. Minnesota, Johnson (un.), 13:59. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Minnesota 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 4. Kenai River, Butcher (Stefan, Bushey), 9:19; 5. Minnesota, Krueger, penalty shot, 14:49. Penalties – Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Minnesota 5 for 10:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 10-13-18—41; Minnesota 15-14-4—33.
Goalies — Kenai River, Quinn (33 shots, 30 saves); Minnesota, Tolvanen (41 shots, 39 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 1 for 5; Minnesota 0 for 2.