The Kenai River Brown Bears topped the Alaska Avalanche of Palmer 5-0 on Saturday at the Soldotna Sports Center to stop a two-game losing streak.
The Avs had defeated the Brown Bears at the sports center on Thursday and Friday when Kenai River gave up leads to lose by a goal.
"We just need to recuperate," Brown Bears coach Oliver David said after Friday's game. "It's not a good feeling to get swept at home."
There would be no lost lead on Saturday, as Mathias Dahlstrom shut out the Avs on 37 shots in front of 851 fans.
The Brown Bears improve to 11-10-2 and are just two points out of first place in the North American Hockey League West Division, where the Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild and Fairbanks Ice Dogs are tied for the top spot.
Alaska, at 11-10-0, is two points behind the Bears.
After a scoreless first period, the Bears scored four goals in the second -- three on the power play -- to take command of the game. Alex Frere, Doug Beck, Jesse Ramsey and Sean Muller had the second-period tallies.
Beck finished up the scoring in the third.
The Avs came from a goal down to defeat the Brown Bears 4-3 in front of 812 fans Friday night at the Soldotna Sports Center. It was the second time in as many nights the Avalanche erased a deficit to beat the Brown Bears on their home ice, making up four points in the West Division standings.
"We showed some heart and the guys had each other's backs, which was nice to see," Brown Bears coach Oliver David said. "This is a really tough division, and two points is hard to come by."
Tyler Briola tallied the game-winner for Alaska, firing a shot through traffic with Kenai River goalkeeper Josh Benton on his back after a scrum inside the crease. Benton couldn't get in front of the puck as it curled inside the right post, giving the Avalanche a 4-3 advantage with 5:17 to play.
It was the final goal in a game that saw just about everything. There were two brawls in a second period that included five of the game's seven scores, with two players being ejected. There were two ties and two lead changes, and the teams combined for 21 infractions and 90 minutes in the penalty box.
The Brown Bears had a golden chance for the go-ahead goal with 8:19 remaining in the third, but Bobby Murphy's shot into an open net from point-blank range bounced off the left post, allowing an out-of-position Landon Peterson to recover and smother the puck.
It was the last real scoring opportunity Kenai River would have on a night when it managed 30 shots. The Avs had 31 shots.
"That was a grade-A chance," Alaska coach Brian Huebel said. "Sometimes you need lady luck on your side, and we were fortunate enough to have it bounce our way."
The Brown Bears scored two goals in less than a minute to take a 3-2 lead midway through the second period.
They tied the game 2-2 with 10:08 to play in the second when Dominic Granato delivered a perfect cross from left to right to a streaking Zack Capozza, who took the puck in stride and beat Peterson.
With 9:32 to play and Kenai River playing short-handed, Beck finished with his left hand to make it 3-2.
Before the crowd had settled back into its seats, however, the Avalanche got the equalizer with 9:15 left on a goal from Jacob Barber, who finished an assist from Jake Williams.
Kenai River's Matt Thompson and Blake Huppert of Alaska were ejected with 3:49 left in the second for fighting between the whistle. The duo exchanged punches following a dog pile against the boards between both teams. Thompson and Huppert separated from the pack and swung at each other before falling to the ice and wrestling. The exchange lasted more than a minute.
It took nearly five minutes for play to resume and a total of seven infractions were issued.
"It was a very hard-fought game," Huebel said. "The intensity, guys were coming after each other."
Huppert gave the Avalanche a 2-0 lead with 18:35 to play in the second period, sneaking the puck past Benton while falling to the ice. Daniel Senkbeil earned the assist.
Less than a minute later, Brad Duwe cut the lead in half for Kenai River. The Soldotna High School product finished an assist from Lubanski 15 seconds into the Brown Bears' first power play of the game after Alaska's Derek Whitehill was called for an infraction.
Trent Wohlers of Kenai River and Buzz Tryggeseth of Alaska were sent to the penalty box for five minutes after brawling at the 16:35 mark, with both stripping their gloves and helmet before tumbling to the ice, where they were eventually separated.
"You like to see that passion, but I think both coaches would agree you like to see a cleaner match," David said.
The action picked up in the first period after 19 minutes of scoreless play.
Multiple infractions were issued at the 1:15 mark with the Avalanche on a power play when Grant Dye of Alaska appeared to hit Erik Persson after the whistle, setting off a chain of pushing and shoving. Alaska's Zach Smith was called for roughing, while Wohlers was called for an elbow.
A minute later, with 9.3 seconds left, the Avalanche went up 1-0 on Huppert's first goal. The left winger was streaking up the middle toward the net and received a pass from Brandon Brossoit, taking it on his right and beating Benton.
AVALANCHE 4, BROWN BEARS 3
Alaska 1 2 1 --4
Kenai River 0 3 0 --3
First period -- 1. Alaska, Huppert (Brossoit), 19:50. Penalties -- Alaska 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Second period -- 2. Alaska, Huppert (Senkbeil), 1:26; 3. Kenai River, Duwe (Lubanski), pp, 2:10; 4. Kenai River, Capozza (Granato, Ware), 9:52; 5. Kenai River, Beck (Lubanski), sh, 10:28; 6. Alaska, Barber (Williams), pp, 10:45. Penalties -- Alaska 8 for 40:00; Kenai River 7 for 38:00.
Third period -- 7. Alaska, Briola (Barber), 14:43. Penalties -- Alaska 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Shots on goal -- Alaska 8-10-13--31; Kenai River 7-14-9--30.
Goalies -- Alaska, Peterson (30 shots-27 saves); Kenai River, Benton (31 shots-27 saves).
Power plays -- Alaska 1 for 5; Kenai River 1 for 4.
BROWN BEARS 5, AVALANCHE 0
Alaska 0 0 0 --0
Kenai River 0 4 1 --5
First period -- none. Penalties -- Alaska 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period -- 1. Kenai River, Frere (Lubanski, Beck), pp, 7:18; 2. Kenai River, Beck (Lubanski, Persson), pp, 8:45; 3. Kenai River, Ramsey (Keenan, Huckleby), 11:09; 4. Kenai River, Muller (Ware, Murphy), pp, 18:48. Penalties -- Alaska 5 for 10:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Third period -- 5. Kenai River, Beck (Rial, Frere), 18:42. Penalties -- Alaska 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 3 for 6:00.
Shots on goal -- Alaska 8-13-16--37; Kenai River 15-12-3--30.
Goalies -- Alaska, Peterson (30 shots, 25 saves); Kenai River, Dahlstrom (37 shots, 37 saves).
Power plays -- Alaska 0 for 4; Kenai River 3 for 7.
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