The Kenai River Brown Bears dropped North American Hockey League contests to the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets on Friday and the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues on Saturday.
The Bears have now lost six straight, but did get a point in one of those losses. Kenai River is 12-27-1-2, while Springfield has the final playoff spot in the Midwest Division with a 19-18-3-1 record good for 42 points.
The Bears now return home for 7:30 p.m. games Friday and Saturday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scanton Knights at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
Friday, the Bears had a 2-0 lead until late in the first period, when Janesville got on the board and proceeded to score the last six goals of the game.
Friday, Carter Wade scored 8:45 into the game and Luke Radetic scored 13:38 into the contest.
“We got off to probably one of our best starts of the season, in my opinion,” Kenai River assistant Nick Sova said. “We got up 2-0 and I think at one point the shots were 10-1 us.”
But Janesville got a power-play goal from Jakov Novak with 1:47 left in the period.
“Instead of coming in a little happier, we came in down,” Sova said.
Janesville then scored three goals in the first 4:06 of the second period to take control of the game.
“We’ve been getting leads lately, but we haven’t been able to hang onto leads,” Sova said. “We have to learn how to hang onto leads.”
Kenai River goalie Kevin Lake was pulled after the three-goal barrage, making 15 saves on 19 shots, but Sova said the decision was to shake up the team collectively. Gavin Enright came on and made 14 saves on 16 shots.
Sova said the Bears did not score on a five-minute major in the third period, which was the best chance to get back into the game.
Garrett Nieto made 22 saves for Janesville.
Saturday, the Bears went down 3:00 into the game, but Emils Ezitis scored to tie it up at 1 with 14:17 left in the first period.
However, Springfield scored the next three goals of the game to take control. Gil Garcia had a power-play goal in the third period for the Bears.
Enright had seven saves on 10 shots for the Bears, while Kevin Lake had 39 saves on 40 shots. Evan Fear stopped 33 of 35 for Springfield.
Bears notes: Markuss Komuls was named the Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month this week. Komuls, at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, had seven assists and four goals and was plus-3 in seven games in January.
Komuls is from Talsi, Latvia, and played for his home country at the Division I Group A U20 World Championships in France from Dec. 10 to 16.
“He got confidence playing with the national team and came back playing at a high level,” Sova said. “He’s not only putting the puck in the net, but he’s making sure the puck is not in our net.”
Sova and head coach Josh Petrich see the work that Komuls puts into his craft, so they know the award is deserved.
“No matter what it is, playing soccer before practice or a game, he goes 110 percent and does whatever it takes to win and be successful,” Sova said. …
The Bears have traded defenseman Connor Fedorek to the Odessa (Texas) Jackalopes
Fedorek appeared in 26 games for the Bears last season, recording four assists, before playing in 37 games this season and tallying a goal and 11 assists.
Joe Rosa, a 6-foot-0, 205-pound defenseman from Ballwin, Missouri, comes to the Bears in the trade. This season, Rosa had no points in seven games for the Corpus Christi (Texas) IceRays and a goal and six assists in 31 games for the Jackalopes.
“He’s an older guy that’s played junior hockey awhile,” Sova said. “He’s a big, strong defenseman and that’s something we don’t have a lot of on the back end.”
Sova also said Rosa has the on-ice presence to protect Bears players on the ice.
“I don’t expect Joe to come in and fight every night,” Sova said. “He’s a good defenseman, too, and that’s why we wanted him. It’s always nice to be feared a little and if we have a couple of guys that do that, it doesn’t hurt at all.”
Jets 6, Brown Bears 2
Kenai River 2 0 0 — 2
Janesville Jets 1 3 2 — 6
First period — 1. Kenai River, Wade (Kaplan), 8:45; 2. Kenai River, Radetic (Karlsson), 13:38; 3. Janesville, Novak (Hoffmann, Ekberg), pp, 18:13. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 17:00; Janesville 3 for 17:00.
Second period — 4. Janesville, MacLaren (Doyle, Polglaze), 0:56; 5. Janesville, Renlund (Eckerle, Palmqvist), 2:05; 6. Janesville, Polglaze (Vincent, Steinmetz), 4:06. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Janesville 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 7. Janesville, Novak (Ekberg), 12:37; 8. Janesville, Eckerle (Onmen, Barbolini), 19:56. Penalties — Kenai River 6 for 51:00; Janesville 3 for 27:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 12-6-6—24; Janesville 6-17-12—35.
Goalies — Kenai River, Lake (19 shots, 15 saves), Enright (16 shots, 14 saves); Janesville, Nieto (24 shots, 22 saves).
Power plays — Janesville 2 for 4; Kenai River 0 for 3.
Jr. Blues 4, Brown Bears 2
Kenai River 1 0 1 — 2
Springfield 3 1 0 — 4
First period — 1. Springfield, Hollenstein (Muzzillo, Mickeslon), pp, 3:00; 2. Kenai River, Ezitis (Komuls, Krajnik), 5:43; 3. Springfield, Walter (Murray, Kozyrev), 7:45; 4. Springfield, DenBeste (Stewart, Sterne), 8:34. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Springfield 4 for 8:00.
Second period — 5. Springfield, Kozyrev (Mickelson, Muzzillo), pp, 7:39. Penalties — Kenai River 7 for 33:00; Springfield 5 for 21:00.
Third period — 6. Kenai River, Garcia (Hanson, C. McDonald), pp, 8:31. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 8:00; Springfield 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 15-9-11—35; Springfield 16-18-16—50.
Goalies — Kenai River, Enright (10 shots, 7 saves), Lake (40 shots, 39 saves); Springfield, Fear (35 shots, 33 saves).