The Kenai River Brown Bears have yet to clinch anything, but if they continue to amass points at the clip they did over the past five games they will be in the playoffs when the regular season ends.
The Bears (19-16-3) continued their nine-game road swing by picking up two points with a win over the Dawson Creek (British Columbia) Rage on Friday and another point with an overtime loss against the same squad Saturday. Kenai River and Dawson Creek conclude a three-game set at noon Alaska Standard Time today.
The Bears are 3-1-1 through five of the nine games away from the Soldotna Sports Center.
"Seven out of a possible 10 points? We'll take it," David said.
On Friday in front of 983 fans, Brett Lubanski scored with 52 seconds left in the third period to give the Bears a 7-6 victory.
Alex Frere had a huge game for the Brown Bears, who sit in fourth place of the North American Hockey League West Division and would reach the postseason if it started today.
Frere, who saw increased playing time Friday and Saturday because forward Brad Duwe didn't make the trip to Dawson Creek, scored six goals in his first 32 games this season before erupting for four goals in his 33rd game of the season.
Frere's outburst included a hat trick in the first period. After Frere opened the scoring, Dawson Creek's Scott Fellnermayr scored the first of his two goals to even the score.
"He answered the bell beyond expectations," David said of Frere.
The Brown Bears closed the period with three unanswered goals. Sean Muller, who had two goals for Kenai River, also scored in the first period.
The second period belonged to Dawson Creek. Troy Petrick and Ryan Matthews scored for the Rage to cut the lead to 4-3 before Frere answered. Zac Ashdown cut the lead back to one goal with 5:11 left in the second period, while Fellnermayr struck again to tie the game to open the third period.
Muller put the Brown Bears on top with 3:54 left before Dakota Mason tied the game with 2:38 to play, setting up Lubanski's heroics. The Brown Bears outshot the Rage 14-6 in the third period to fashion a 44-37 advantage for the game.
Josh Benton won for the Brown Bears by making 31 saves, while Edward Dyson took the loss and made 37 saves.
"It was back and forth," David said. "Not something we want to be involved in, but we'll take the win on the road."
Saturday's game saw the Bears lose in extra time as Dawson Creek's Jon Johannesson tallied the game-winner. Matt Thompson scored both of the Bears' goals, coming in the first and second periods.
David said the squad showed signs of fatigue during the game, a result of being shorthanded thanks to the absence of Duwe and Ryan Walker, who has been out with a high-ankle sprain. The Rage scored two goals in the third to force overtime.
However, the Bears recently acquired defenseman Alec Thieda from the Texas Tornado and will have his services for an upcoming series against the Fresno (Calif.) Monsters.
Theida will join the club for that series along with Duwe, who is home to take classes at Soldotna High School.
David said the top priority is to play well Sunday and regroup for the series against Fresno.
"You're talking about three guys who aren't able to play in this series," David said Saturday night by phone, referring to Duwe, Walker and Theida. "The real deal is going to be to finish as strong as we can tomorrow, hurry the hell out of town, get on a bus and get some rest."
Brown Bears 7, Rage 6
Kenai River 4 1 2 --7
Dawson Creek 1 3 2 --6
First period -- 1. Kenai River, Frere (Lubanski, Beck), 3:37; 2. Dawson Creek, Fellnermayr (Mason, Ashdown), 3:54; 3. Kenai River, Frere (Persson, Lubanski), pp, 7:23; 4. Kenai River, Muller (Murphy), 8:29; 5. Kenai River, Frere (Persson, Benton), 19:32. Penalties -- Kenai River 2 for 7:00; Dawson Creek 3 for 9:00.
Second period -- 6. Dawson Creek, Petrick (Matthews), 0:45; 7. Dawson Creek, Matthews (McCallum), 8:58; 8. Kenai River, Frere (Lubanski), 10:27; 9. Dawson Creek, Ashdown (Hartley, Mason), pp, 14:49. Penalties -- Kenai River 4 for 8:00; Dawson Creek 2 for 4:00.
Third period -- 10. Dawson Creek, Fellnermayr (Swales, Zarazun), 13:14; 11. Kenai River, Muller (Thompson), 16:06; 12. Dawson Creek, Mason (Turnbull, Wark), 17:22; 13. Kenai River, Lubanski (Stenehjem), 19:08. Penalties -- Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Dawson Creek 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal -- Kenai River 16-14-14--44; Dawson Creek 15-16-6--37.
Goalies -- Kenai River, Benton (37 shots, 31 saves); Dawson Creek, Dyson (44 shots, 37 saves).
Power plays -- Kenai River 1 for 3; Dawson Creek 1 for 4.
Kenai River 1 1 0 0 --2
Dawson Creek 0 0 2 1 --3
First period -- 1.Kenai River, Thompson (Keenan, Muller), 10:23. Penalties -- Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Dawson Creek 3 for 6:00.
Second period -- 2. Kenai River, Thompson (Keenan), 13:54. Penalties -- Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Dawson Creek 3 for 6:00.
Third period -- 3. Dawson Creek, Mason (Fellnermayr, Ashdown), 4:11; 4. Dylan Smith (ecknagle, Zarazun), 6:34. Penalties -- none.
Overtime -- 5. Dawson Creek, Johannesson (Crema, Wark), 3:14. Penalties -- none.
Shots on goal -- Kenai River 13-16-10-0--39; Dawson Creek 6-3-12-2--23.
Goalies -- Kenai River, Dahlstrom (23 shots, 20 saves); Dawson Creek, Dyson (39 shots, 37 saves).
Power plays-- Kenai River 0 for 5; Dawson Creek 0 for 2.
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