The Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the Coulee Region (Wis.) Chill 3-2 on Saturday at the Soldotna Sports Center in North American Hockey League action.
The Bears completed a two-game sweep of the Chill in front of 863 fans, and also won their seventh game in their last eight tries.
Kenai River (7-3) is alone in second in the Midwest Division, two points behind the leading Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Coulee Region (5-3) tumbles into a tie for fourth place.
“We played a solid 60 minutes,” Bears head coach Geoff Beauparlant said. “We talked about consistency after last night. We were able to play our style of hockey for most of the night.
“We could have had a couple more. We still need to capitalize on scoring chances.”
Christian Luiten put the Bears up 1-0 when he scored on assists from Brody Decker and Jake Bushey. Beauparlant said Luiten did a good job of moving his feet and getting his head up to place the shot, then Frank Spellman created a nice screen in front.
A goal by Eddie Matsushima made it 1-1 headed into the second.
Just 6:35 into the second, the Bears’ top line continued to click when Sebastian Fuchs scored on assists from Alec Butcher and Albin Karlsson.
With 1:04 left in the second, Kenai Central product Zack Zulkanycz made it 3-1 on assists from Matt Rudin and Sam Bratten. Beauparlant said the line did a great job of keeping the puck down low, and Zulkanycz finally got it in front of the net and beat goalie Blake Cates five-hole.
The Bears outshot the Chill 37-26 a night after Coulee limited Kenai River to 19 shots.
“We were willing to put pucks there and get bodies there and create havoc around the net,” Beauparlant said.
In the third, the coach was happy with the way the Bears held the lead, allowing only a power-play goal by Jake Zeleznikar.
“The whole D corps was solid,” Beauparlant said. “They moved the puck cleanly and broke the puck out well. The goal in the third was a fluke little one they snuck in one the power play.”
The Bears host Corpus Christi (Texas) Friday and Saturday at the sports center.
Brown Bears 3, Chill 2
Coulee Region 1 0 1 —2
Kenai River 1 2 0 —3
First period — 1. Kenai River, Luiten (Decker, Bushey), 10:46; 2. Coulee Region, Matsushima (Montemurro), 16:37. Penalties — Coulee 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 4 for 8:00.
Second period — 3. Kenai River, Fuchs (Butcher, Karlsson), 6:35; 4. Kenai River, Zulkanycz (Rudin, Bratten), 18:56. Penalties — Coulee 6 for 12:00; Kenai River 4 for 8:00.
Third period — 5. Coulee, Zeleznikar (Lovick), pp, 4:44. Penalties — Coulee 7 for 33:00; Kenai River 7 for 33:00.
Shots on goal — Coulee 12-8-6—26; Kenai River 13-12-12—37.
Goalies — Coulee, Cates (37 shots, 34 saves); Kenai River, Quinn (26 shots, 24 saves).
Power plays — Coulee 1 for 5, Kenai River 0 for 5.