At the conclusion of the NAHL Showcase, we took our show on the road to Wenatchee to face a team we have had very little success against the past two seasons. The first of two games proved to be too much for our group to handle, as Wenatchee pulled out all the stops for their first home game of the season. The place was packed with 4,000 fans screaming louder than I'd ever heard them. The game was delayed and our boys had to sit in the locker room for a few extra minutes as the wild hung their back-to-back regular-season title banner and played last season's highlight reel.
They scored on the first shift -- we struggled through the first period, ending with 8 shots against, and 3 goals in the back of our net.
With the jitters out, we played a good second period scoring the only goal. We were dominant at times, which was great to see. Unfortunately, in the third we ran into some penalty trouble and really didn't gain any momentum, losing the period 1-0 for a final of 4-1.
Game two was a whole other story. We out-shot, out-hit, and out-battled the Wild, keeping them to under 30 shots two nights in a row -- something that by my recollection has never happened.
With 8 or so minutes to go in the thirrd period, we clawed back to an even 4-4 score. But just like the night before, we put ourselves in a bad spot by taking a 5-minute major penalty, which eventually led to a power play goal for the Wild and a game ending score of 5-4 in favor of the wild.
There were many positives from our first weekend series with the Wild. Our new guys got a taste of playing on the road in front of a good sized crowd. We were able to rebound and get on the board, keep shots against down, put pucks in the net -- lots of good to work with.
Next up we face the expansion Dawson Creek Rage for three games. No one knows exactly what to expect, other than comparing wins and losses up against teams we've both already played. That said, we are not relying solely on that data, but it does prove a useful tool in some respects.
Game one is Friday night in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada. We are preparing all week, practicing, lifting, and running. We have had a long road trip and finsihing off strong here is our goal.
All the boys are pumped to get home, move into our locker room at the Soldotna Sports Center and play for our home crowd. We have an exciting team that has really come together this season.
We all look forward to our loyal cheering us on, and hopefully playing in front of some new faces.
Oliver David is head coach of the NAHL Junior A Kenai River Brown Bears hockey team.
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