The Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the host Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild 3-2 on Thursday in North American Hockey League action.
The Brown Bears started a nine-game road trip by winning their second game in a row. The team continues to road trip with games tonight and Saturday in Wenatchee at 6:05 p.m. AST.
Kenai River (17-15-3) remains in fourth place in the West Division with 37 points, while Wenatchee (21-13-2) is in third place with 44 points. The Alaska Avalanche of Palmer (24-15-1) lead the division with 49 points.
The top four in the division make the playoffs. Fresno (Calif.) is in fifth with 29 points while Dawson Creek (B.C.) is in sixth with 26 points. Kenai River sees both Fresno and Dawson Creek for three-game sets later on the road trip.
The Brown Bears improved to 3-2 against the Wild this year. They also notched their first win in Wenatchee since Oct. 1, 2009. Wenatchee, which drew 2,827 fans on Thursday and leads the league in average attendance, is always a tough place to play.
Brown Bears coach Oliver David said goalie Matthias Dahlstrom was the player of the game. Dahlstrom made 43 shots on 41 saves, including 21 saves on 22 shots in the final period.
The Brown Bears went up 3-1 with 4:03 left in the game when Matt Thompson scored on assists from Sean Muller and Bobby Murphy.
After that, Dahlstrom was put to the test as the Wild spend most of the rest of the game with an extra attacker. DJ Vandercook cut the lead to one goal with 2:23 left.
"They had a little offensive flurry," David said of the Wild. "You have to rely on your goalie in those situations and he did a good job.
"The team did its job for about 57 minutes, then Matthias did his job."
Captain Brett Lubanski started the scoring in the first period with his seventh goal of the year. Doug Beck and Brad Duwe assisted.
"They all touched the puck on that goal," David said of his top line. "It was the perfect forecheck."
After Carl-Johan Sjogren tied the game with 18:40 left in the second period, Lubanski, Beck and Duwe were on the ice for the second goal.
Chris Rial got the power-play tally on an assist from Lubanski.
"It was nice to see that showing because they necessarily haven't showed that well against the Wild," David said of his top line.
David said special teams played a big role in the victory. The Bears were 2-for-5 on the power play, while Wenatchee went scoreless in three attempts.
"Special teams is crucial, and so is defense and doing the little things like blocking shots and getting sticks in passing lanes," David said.
The coach does not expect his team to get complacent after notching such a rare win in Wenatchee.
"In reality, we've got eight more games on this road trip," David said. "If they're satisfied after the first game out of the chute, it's going to be a long road trip.
"I know this awakened the Wild."
Sterling's Branden Fisher returned to the Brown Bears on Thursday and played solid in his debut, also dropping the gloves for some fisticuffs in the third period.
David also announced the Brown Bears have acquired 20-year-old, left-handed defenseman Alec Theida from the Texas Tornado of the NAHL. Theida will join the squad after the next two games in Wenatchee.
Brown Bears 3, Wild 2
Kenai River 1 1 1 --3
Wenatchee 0 1 1 --2
First period -- 1. Kenai River, Lubanski (Beck, Duwe), 17:27. Penalties -- Wenatchee 2 for 7:00; Kenai River 1 for 5:00.
Second period -- 2. Wenatchee, Sjogren (Pauly, Vandercook), 1:20; 3. Kenai River, Rial (Lubanksi), pp, 4:35. Penalties -- Wenatchee 3 for 6:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Third period -- 4. Kenai River, Thompson (Muller, Murphy), pp, 15:57; 5. Wenatchee, Vandercook (Pauly, Brown), ea, 17:37. Penalties -- Wenatchee 3 for 17:00; Kenai River 2 for 7:00.
Shots on goal -- Kenai River 8-9-3--20; Wenatchee 9-12-22--43.
Goalies -- Kenai River, Dahlstrom (43 shots, 41 saves); Wenatchee, Jaeger (20 shots, 17 saves).
Power plays -- Kenai River 2 for 5; Wenatchee 0 for 3.
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