Brownies face off with Wild: Wenatchee in midst of brutal road trip

Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This is as good of a time as any to face the Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild.

That doesn't mean it's a good time to face the Wild.

Wenatchee, which leads the North American Hockey League with 28 points, plays the Kenai River Brown Bears today and Wednesday at the Soldotna Sports Center at 7:05 p.m.

The Wild are in the midst of a brutal road trip. They played Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Fairbanks, taking two of three from the Ice Dogs.

After Wednesday's game, Wenatchee finishes its Alaska tour with Friday and Saturday games against the Alaska Avalanche of Wasilla. That makes for seven games in nine days.

"I would not underestimate Wenatchee on any day of the week," Kenai River interim head coach Oliver David said. "I have seen the level of competition they are capable of playing at."

The Wild have a 14-3-0 record that gives them 28 points and puts them ahead of the next-best point total in the league -- the 16 of Marquette. Last season, the Wild lost 3-2 in overtime to St. Louis in the Robertson Cup Final. The Wild are 2-1 against Kenai River this season.

The Brown Bears (3-10-1) are also at a busy time in the schedule. Kenai River played Friday and Saturday, and also will welcome Fairbanks to the Sports Center on Friday and Saturday.

All this after head coach Marty Quarters was dismissed by the team after 12 games last week.

"Today the skate was very energetic," David said. "There were lots of smiles, and I consider that a good thing going into games against the No. 1 team in the league."

The Brown Bears responded to Quarters' dismissal on Friday by defeating Bismarck (N.D.) 5-2, but then lost to the Bobcats 5-2 on Saturday.

"I felt that we did not meet the challenge of that game with as much intensity as we had Friday night," David said. "Not only because of the loss, but because the game seemed a little slower, more sluggish."

Sluggish will not work against West Division rival Wenatchee. Wild goalies Brandon Jaeger and Mac Carruth are fourth and fifth, respectively, in the league in goals-against average. Jaeger is at 2.08 while Carruth is a sliver behind at 2.11.

David would like to see his goalies, Jimmy Hamby and Mike Martin, rise to the challenge of squaring off against the league's best. Hamby is 23rd in goals-against average at 3.31.

"I'm excited to see which one of the goalies will finally prove up to the challenge, and prove to myself and their teammates, that they would like the starting job," David said.

The goalies will be tasked with stopping Wenatchee's Shawn Pauly, who is tied for fourth in league scoring with 17 points. He has seven goals and 10 assists.

Wenatchee's other top scorer is Kyle Brodie, who is tied for ninth in the league with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists).

Brodie is tied with Kenai River's top scorer, Dajon Mingo, who has six goals and eight assists.

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