It was a big day last week for the Kenai River Brown Bears and their fans. The team needed one more win to cinch a playoff berth in the Junior A Hockey Regional Championships, spirits were running high and Kevin Lauver, sales manager for Stanley Ford in Kenai felt it would be a great time to host a community "pep-rally" for the team at their new show room. "We are major Brown Bear sponsors and we felt it was a good time to get folks inspired about what these guys have been doing on the ice," said Lauver, "So we brought over Griz the mascot and a lot of the players to give away autographed photos and some game tickets and to get folks fired up. It was a great day, bright and sunny and about 50 to 100 people turned out to show their support, the enthusiasm really caught on and we sold 7 vehicles that afternoon," he said.
General Manager Nate Kiel and coach Oliver David were also on hand and excited about this year's season, "The team actually made the playoffs by default the first three years as there were only four teams in the western division , but this year with six teams it was ultimately our team goal to earn the right to play in the play-offs, we can cinch that with a win tonight so we appreciate Stanley Ford and the community turning out for us, it was a big day for us," David said in an interview with the Dispatch. The Brown Bears went on to win their next two games, cinch their berth in the play-offs and are now battling to secure home ice for the first round. In order to do that they will have to finish second, "We'll see how it plays out, we just have to keep winning," said David.
The Brown Bears play two in Fairbanks March 18th & 19th, then return home for the final three March 24th-26th. "Tickets are going fast, the community is excited and we hope the Soldotna Sports Center sells out for all three games," said Lauver. The Brown Bears have become popular on the Peninsula and not just because they have been playing heads up hockey, but for the community service they have been providing at a myriad of venues for different non-profit and charitable organizations, "General manager Nate Kiel and I went out this summer and aggressively sought out players from good backgrounds, sound character, and strong family ties in addition to being passionate about hockey. The number one thing in our player's expectation manual is to be of service to the community above and beyond anything they did on the ice and the results are what we see happening here all year long and it's been great for all of us. We have 23 players at any given time throughout the season and they have all worked extremely hard. We probably spend more time together on a daily basis than the other teams and we work harder in the community, we're real proud of that, it's difficult at times, but on and off the ice these guys have really bought in to the community and all the credit goes to them," added David.
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