The Kenai River Brown Bears ended a two-game trip to Fairbanks with two points and one blowout loss.
After picking up two points in a 3-2 overtime victory Friday, the Bears were blown out 7-1 by the Ice Dogs on Saturday in front of 2,242 fans.
The loss drops the Bears out of the last playoff spot in the North American Hockey League Midwest Division.
The Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild hold fourth with 56 points, while the Bears, at 24-19-6, have 54 points and have played two less games than Wenatchee. The Coulee Region (Wis.) Chill are in third with 58.
Fairbanks, meanwhile, is on the top of the division and the league with 77 points.
The Bears travel to the Wild for games Thursday, Saturday and March 2. After that pivotal series, the Wild have just six games left, while the Bears have eight games left.
Saturday’s game began with one goal in the first period, as Ross Olsson scored midway through the period.
But once Kyle Lee added a second goal on a power play early in the second stanza, things began to get out of control.
Tayler Munson scored twice in the second period, Lee added two of his own, and when the 20 minutes were up, the Ice Dogs were sitting pretty with a 6-0 cushion.
Alec Butcher ruined Fairbanks goalie Patrick Munson’s shutout with 28 seconds left in the game. Kris Oldham started the night in goal for Kenai River, but after letting in the first five goals, he was pulled in favor of Zach Quinn, who let in another two pucks.
Friday, the Kenai River Brown Bears started the evening without sticks and ended the evening with two very big points in the race to get into the North American Hockey League playoffs.
The Brown Bears topped Fairbanks 3-2 in overtime Friday night at the Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks in front of 2,242. The Bears picked up a point for the ninth time in 11 games.
“It’s always hard to come in here and get two points,” said Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant, a former Fairbanks assistant. “It’s even harder when they have a big, special event.
“It was rocking in here tonight, but at the same time it’s fun to play in that environment and embrace the challenge. We just can’t rest on our laurels.”
Kenai River’s sticks were left behind on the flight up Friday, and didn’t arrive in Fairbanks until 7:15 p.m. Beauparlant credited Fairbanks general manager Rob Proffitt for delaying the game 15 minutes in order to wait for the sticks.
“At first, we were a little bit shaky but we found our legs halfway through the first period and started executing a little better,” Beauparlant said.
The coach credited goalie Zach Quinn for keeping the first period scoreless even though the Bears were outshot 16-6.
With 15 minutes, 50 seconds, left in the second period, the Bears forced a turnover and Jake Davidson found Nathan Colwell, who scored on a backhand.
Just 1:35 later, Alec Butcher passed to Albin Karlsson, who shot and was rewarded with an assist when Judd Loewenstein put in the rebound.
The momentum turned with 10:51 left in the second, when Wyatt Ege dumped the puck in from the red line and got a goal when it bounced in over Quinn.
“It just bounced up and over his shoulder,” Beauparlant said. “He was in position. It just bounced higher than he thought it was going to, or anybody thought it was going to.”
Fairbanks took that momentum and tied the game with 8:06 remaining when Yannick Vedel scored on a two-on-one.
The game would remain deadlocked until 1:16 into the extra frame, when Vince Stefan, assisted by Butcher and Jack Gessert, scored when goalie Kevin Aldridge was screened. It was the second overtime game-winner this year for Stefan.
Aldridge had 17 saves while Quinn had 31 saves.
The same two teams drop the puck at 7:30 p.m. tonight, as the Bears play the second of nine straight games on the road.
Ice Dogs 7, Brown Bears 1
Kenai River 0 0 1 —1
Fairbanks 1 5 1 —7
First period — 1. Fairbanks, Olsson (Munson, Liljegren), 8:25. Penalties — Kenai River 4 for 11:00; Fairbanks 3 for 7:00.
Second period — 2. Fairbanks, Lee (Hinz), pp, 1:26; 3. Fairbanks, Munson (Ege, Wolter), 12:51; 4. Fairbanks, Lagrone (Wolter, Nilson), 16:27; 5. Fairbanks, Lee (Ege), 16:54; 6. Fairbanks, Munson (Rose, Burgess), 19:11. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Fairbanks 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 7. Fairbanks, Liljegren (Burgess, Wolter), 6:57; 8. Kenai River, Butcher (Salvato, Gessert), 19:32. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Fairbanks 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 4-5-8—17; Fairbanks 8-14-7—29.
Goalies — Kenai River, Oldham (21 shots, 16 saves) Quinn (8 shots, 6 saves); Fairbanks, Munson (17 shots, 16 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 3; Fairbanks 1 for 4.
Brown Bears 3, Ice Dogs 2, OT
Kenai River 0 2 0 1 —3
Fairbanks 0 2 0 0 —2
First period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 1. Kenai River, Colwell (Davidson), 4:10; 2. Kenai River, Loewenstein (Karlsson, Butcher), 5:45; 3. Fairbanks, Ege (Bushey, Wolter), 9:09; 4. Fairbanks, Vedel (Lee, Somoza), 11:54. Penalties — Fairbanks 1 for 2:00.
Third period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Fairbanks 2 for 4:00.
Overtime — 5. Kenai River, Stefan (Butcher, Gessert), 1:16.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 6-8-5-1—20; Fairbanks 16-7-10-0—33.
Goalies — Kenai River, Quinn (33 shots, 31 saves); Fairbanks, Aldridge (20 shots, 17 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 3; Fairbanks 0 for 4.