If the Kenai River Brown Bears were looking for something to lift them from a slump, they didn’t get it this weekend.
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs swept the Brown Bears in two games on Friday and Saturday night at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex — picking up a 6-5 overtime win on Friday before dominating a 6-3 game on Saturday — leaving Kenai River with their fourth loss in a row, and 10 out of their last 11.
The loss leaves Kenai River (13-10-3) clinging to third place in the North American Hockey League Midwest division standings with 29 points. Three other teams are now within three points of the Bears, while the Ice Dogs are now tied for the Midwest lead with the Minnesota Wilderness with 36 points apiece.
Just like Friday night — when Fairbanks outshot Kenai River 53-21 — the Ice Dogs held the big shots-on-goal advantage on Saturday, outshooting Kenai River 55-27, including going 16-6 in the first period.
Kenai River was productive on the power play, getting both goals while holding a man advantage. After Fairbanks struck first with a shot from Tayler Munson only 4 minutes, 49 seconds, into the game, Eric Purcell knotted things up midway through the period.
However, Fairbanks tallied two more goals in the period from Hans Gorowsky and Viktor Liljegren, before forward Matt Rudin brought the gap back down to one with 1:43 remaining in the first. It was Rudin’s fourth point of the weekend.
Ethan Somoza scored the lone goal of the second period, putting the Ice Dogs up 4-2 going into the final period, and things only continued to get worse.
7:39 into the third period, Liljegren scored again on the power play, and not even two minutes after that, Jacob Hetz snuck a goal in to improve Fairbanks’ lead to 6-2.
Evan Butcher, the younger brother of forward Alec Butcher, scored his second goal of the weekend — and NAHL career — with four minutes remaining. Butcher was just acquired by the Brown Bears on Friday, and is tendered for next season, according to Beauparlant.
The Brown Bears will get a chance at redemption next weekend on the road, when they travel up to Fairbanks to face the Ice Dogs for another two-game weekend series at the Big Dipper, with game times at 7:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.
Ice Dogs 6, Brown Bears 3
Fairbanks 3 1 2 —6
Kenai River 2 0 1 —3
First period — 1. Fairbanks, Munson (Liljegren), 4:49; 2. Kenai River, Purcell (Bushey, Butcher), pp, 10:07; 3. Fairbanks, Gorowsky (Liljegren, Campbell), 10:50; 4. Fairbanks, Liljegren (Munson, Hinz), 14:21; 5. Kenai River, Rudin (Colwell, Butcher), pp, 18:17. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 7:00; Fairbanks 3 for 9:00.
Second period — 6. Fairbanks, Somoza (Rose, Lee), 6:40. Penalties — 2 for 7:00; Fairbanks 2 for 7:00.
Third period — 7. Fairbanks, Liljegren (Madry, Hinz), pp, 7:39; 8. Fairbanks, Hetz (Mueller, Kaplan), 9:12; 9. Kenai River, Butcher (Rudin, Karlsson), 15:57. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 6-10-11—27; Fairbanks 16-17-22—55.
Goalies — Kenai River, Oldham (55 shots, 49 saves); Fairbanks, Munson (27 shots, 24 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 2 for 3; Fairbanks 1 for 3.