The Kenai River Brown Bears opened up the second half of their season with a 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wilderness on Friday in Cloquet, Minn., in front of 412 fans.
The Wilderness have allowed just 48 goals in 29 games, by far the stingiest mark in the league. The Fairbanks Ice Dogs are next at 64.
The Bears were shut out by the Wilderness for the second straight time, following a 2-0 loss to Minnesota on Nov. 23.
Kenai River falls to 14-14-3 and is in fifth place in the Midwest Division, while the Wilderness move to 18-6-5, just one point behind division-leading Fairbanks.
"The biggest story is we didn't capitalize on our chances," Kenai River coach Geoff Beauparlant said. "That's really the bottom line."
The coach said his squad had four two-on-ones and three three-on-twos, but failed to beat Kasimir Kaskisuo, who is now 15-5-4 with a 1.35 goals-against average and .948 save percentage.
Beauparlant said his squad showed the effects of the break for about 10 minutes, but after that played well.
Minnesota struck first in the second period when Jakob Romo scored on an assist from Ivan Chukarov.
Beauparlant said Kenai River had two defensemen try to change at once and could not recover.
Romo, who was traded to Minnesota from the Ice Dogs before this season, was actually recruited to come to Fairbanks by Beauparlant, who was then a Fairbanks assistant. Romo leads the Wilderness with 20 points.
"It's one of those situations where he is motivated," Beauparlant said. "I don't think he wanted to be traded. He's motivated to show he is a good hockey player, which we always thought he would be."
In the third period, Eric Brenk scored on the power play when the puck deflected off a Brown Bears player and into the net.
Beauparlant said it was a tough bounce, but not the cause of defeat.
"We have to score a goal for that one to even matter, in our minds," he said.
Quinn made 34 saves for the Bears, while Kaskisuo had 20 for Minnesota.
"Both teams did a good job keeping pucks to the outside and not giving up quality chances," Beauparlant said. "Quinn gave another great effort. He's been a rock for us."
The coach said all the defensemen played well, particularly Judd Loewenstein, Vince Stefan and Jake Davidson.
Beauparlant said forward Zack Zulkanycz also brought a lot of energy.
"We've got to get some production up front in order to compete with the top teams in the league," Beauparlant said. "When you only give up one or two goals, you expect to win hockey games.
"You can't expect your goaltender to hold teams to zero to one."
The same two teams play Saturday at 4:05 p.m. AST.
Wilderness 2, Brown Bears 0
First period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Minnesota 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 1. Minnesota, Romo (Chukarov), 6:22. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Minnesota 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 2. Minnesota, Brenk (Leabo, May), pp, 3:35. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Minnesota 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 4-10-6—20; Minnesota 11-11-14—36.
Goalies — Kenai River, Quinn (36 shots, 34 saves); Minnesota, Kaskisuo (20 shots, 20 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 4; Minnesota 1 for 6.