The visiting Kenai River Brown Bears were swept by the Lone Star (Texas) Brahmas on Friday and Saturday in North American Hockey League play.
The Bears lost 3-1 on Friday and 5-0 on Saturday.
Kenai River ended its last home stand by winning three straight games, but lost all four games on this road trip.
The Bears return home for their final five home games of the season at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. That series starts Friday and Saturday with 7:30 p.m. games against the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets.
Petrich said his squad has been home for only 30 of the last 97 days. The Bears are 5-3 in their last eight at home but are struggling on the road.
“The road is starting to wear on us,” Petrich said.
The Brahmas moved to 26-12-5-4 and are in second place in the South Division. The Bears are 15-32-1-2 and in last in the Midwest Division, officially out of the playoffs because they are 21 points out of the division’s final playoff spot with 10 games left to play.
The Bears’ losses on the trip have come to the top two teams in the South.
“This road trip we’ve played two really good teams and the style of play down here is different,” Petrich said.
The coach said getting in a player’s lane is allowed more in the South, but that is not something with which the coach has a problem.
“It makes us a more physical team and harder to play against,” he said.
Special teams were the story of Friday’s game, but not the whole story. The Brahmas got all their goals on the power play, finishing 3 for 5, while Kenai River was 0 for 4.
But they were different kinds of power plays. With a scoreless game and 13:18 left in the second period, Eagle River’s Zach Krajnik drew a five-minute major for boarding.
Petrich didn’t have a problem with what Krajnik did and also said the officiating was fine in the game.
“Zach has really developed, since main camp and training camp, into a guy that completes his checks,” Petrich said. “He did what he’s been doing and the guy turned at the last second.”
Ture Linden got the first goal a little over a minute into the power play, then Linden scored again on the five-on-three after Markuss Komuls was booked for cross-checking.
After Justin Addamo made it 3-0 Lone Star with 14:10 left in the game, Petrich said the Bears started to gain momentum, with Filip Karlsson scoring on assists from Komuls and Eagle River’s Cameron McDonald with 9:46 left. Kenai River won the shot count 11-5 in the third.
Harrison Feeney stopped 19 for the Brahmas, while Gavin Enright had 21 saves for the Bears.
Saturday, Petrich said his squad did not show up for the first two periods. The Bears were outshot 25-8 in the first two periods and went down 5-0 on the scoreboard.
“I think the frustrating thing is we have the ability to do it,” Petrich said. “We showed up in the third period. Now we have to dive in and figure out why we didn’t show up in the first two.”
Petrich pulled goalie Kevin Lake after Lake stopped 20 of 25 shots in the first two periods. The coach said Lake was making great saves and didn’t deserve the abuse he was taking. Petrich said the bright spot was Enright stepping in and saving all 12 shots in the third period. Feeney had 15 saves for the shutout for the Brahmas.
Brahmas 3, Brown Bears 1
Kenai River 0 0 1 — 1
Lone Star 0 2 1 — 3
First period — none. Penalties — Lone Star 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 1. Lone Star, Linden (Ipri, Sirota), pp, 7:50; 2. Lone Star, Linden (Hallbauer, Sirota), pp, 10:30. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 27:00; Lone Star 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 3. Lone Star, Addamo (Spellacy, Lennon), pp, 5:50; 4. Kenai River, Karlsson (Komuls, C. McDonald), 10:14. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Lone Star 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 7-2-11—20; Lone Star 6-13-5—24.
Goalies — Kenai River, Enright (24 shots, 21 saves); Lone Star, Feeney (20 shots, 19 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 4; Lone Star 3 for 5.
Brahmas 5, Brown Bears 1
Kenai River 0 0 0 — 0
Lone Star 2 3 0 — 5
First period — 1. Lone Star, Bentley (Pletzke, Sirota), 4:05; 2. Lone Star, Linden (Russell, Trazzera), 6:16. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Lone Star 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 3. Lone Star, Ipri (Hallbauer, Linden), pp, 0:29; 4. Lone Star, Farris (un.), 6:57; 5. Lone Star, Sirota (Linden), 19:45. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Lone Star 1 for 2:00.
Third period — none. Penalties — Kenai River 4 for 19:00; Lone Star 4 for 19:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 5-3-7—15; Lone Star 13-12-12—37.
Goalies — Kenai River, Lake (25 shots, 20 saves), Enright (12 shots, 12 saves); Lone Star, Feeney (15 shots, 15 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 5, Lone Star 1 for 5.