The Kenai River Brown Bears concluded their 16-game road trip with a pair of losses against first-place Wichita Falls.
The Wildcats used two first-period goals and two second-period tallies in beating the Brown Bears 7-3 on Friday before 1,525 fans at Kay Yeager Coliseum.
Following a scoreless first period on Saturday, Wichita Falls owned leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-1 before eventually holding on for a 4-2 victory.
The Wildcats (30-12-2) now lead the South Division with 62 points, eight points ahead of Topeka and 10 in front of Fairbanks, while Texas is currently in possession of the South's fourth and final playoff berth with 38 points.
Kenai River, meanwhile, is in last place at 8-28-7 and has now lost 12 straight games, all on the road.
On Saturday, Jeff McNeil put Wichita Falls in front 3:09 into the second period before Kenai River's Kevin Wentland knotted the game 2:46 later.
But Matt Kenline beat Brown Bears' netminder Matt Wichorek (26 shots, 23 saves) before the end of the middle frame, giving the Wildcats a 2-1 edge entering the third.
Adam Cardwell then made it 3-1 with 7:01 remaining in the contest. But as they've been doing lately, the Brown Bears promptly answered as Sebastian Johansson trimmed the deficit to one off an assist from Brett Englebright. Wichita Falls eventually put the game away when Adam Sponseller scored an empty-netter with 1:04 to play.
The Wildcats also jumped in front 7:48 into Friday's game when Skylur Jameson beat Brown Bears' goalie Steven Madej on a shorthanded opportunity. But former Wildcat Adam Krefski, traded to Kenai River in late November, evened the score on a power play about nine minutes later off an assist from Jake Musselman.
After Wichita's Kent Detlefsen converted on a power play, putting the Wildcats back in front 2-1 with just four seconds remaining in the first, Krefski answered again 3:45 into the second off assists from Kristian Leach and Nick Calma.
Wichita Falls then ran away with it.
Kyle Delaurell and Mike Henderson netted goals in the final eight minutes of the middle frame and both scored again within the first three minutes of the third in staking the Wildcats to a commanding 6-2 advantage.
Garrett Bossert scored Kenai River's final goal with 7:20 to play before Sponseller capped the scoring 5:19 later.
Madej denied 31-of-38 shots while Wildcats' goalie Mike Jarboe saved 21-of-24. Jarboe also turned away 22-of-24 shots on Saturday.
After dropping 14-of-16 games on the rough two-month road trip, Kenai River finally returns home on Friday for a three-game series with the Topeka Roadrunners before hosting the Wildcats for a two-game set beginning Feb. 22.
WILDCATS 4, BROWN BEARS 2
Kenai River 0 1 1 2
Wichita Falls 0 2 2 4
First period No scoring. Penalties Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period 1. Wichita Falls, McNeil (Kenline), 3:09; 2. Kenai River, Wentland (Leach, Krefski), 5:55; 3. Wichita Falls, Kenline (Nowick), 15:29. Penalties Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Wichita Falls 1 for 2:00.
Third period 4. Wichita Falls, Cardwell (unassisted), 12:59; 5. Kenai River, Johansson (Englebright), 18:05; 6. Wichita Falls, Sponseller (unassisted), 18:56 (empty net). Penalties Wichita Falls 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal Kenai River 5-14-5 24; Wichita Falls 4-16-7 27.
Goalies Kenai River, Wichorek (26 shots-23 saves); Wichita Falls, Jarboe (24 shots-22 saves).
Power plays Kenai River 0 for 4; Wichita Falls 0 for 4.
WILDCATS 7, BROWN BEARS 3
Kenai River 1 1 1 3
Wichita Falls 2 2 3 7
First period 1. Wichita Falls, Jameson (Hartung, Kaneshiro), 7:48 (sh); 2. Kenai River, Krefski (Musselman), 16:52 (pp); 3. 3. Wichita Falls, Detlefsen (Cardwell, McKenzie), 19:56 (pp). Penalties Kenai River 3 for 6:00; Wichita Falls 3 for 6:00.
Second period 4. Kenai River, Krefski (Leach, Calma), 3:45; 5. Wichita Falls, Delaurell (Sponseller, McKenzie), 12:02; 6. Wichita Falls, Henderson (Shkrell, Jameson), 19:25. Penalties Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Wichita Falls 2 for 4:00.
Third period 7. Wichita Falls, Delaurell (Jameson, Sponseller), 1:46; 8. Wichita Falls, Henderson (Jameson, Shkrell), 2:08; 9. Kenai River, Bossert (Leach, Simson), 12:40; 10. Wichita Falls, Sponseller (Delaurell, McKenzie), 17:59. Penalties Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Wichita Falls 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal Kenai River 6-8-10 24; Wichita Falls 9-17-12 38.
Goalies Kenai River, Madej (38 shots-31 saves); Wichita Falls, Jarboe (24 shots-21 saves).
Power plays Kenai River 1 for 6; Wichita Falls 1 for 5.
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