The Kenai River Brown Bears will face the Alaska Avalanche of Wasilla tonight at 7:05 p.m. at the Soldotna Sports Center in the first game of the Alaska Bear Cup.
This is the first year for the Alaska Bear Cup. It is a home-and-home series between the Brown Bears and the Avalanche and will include a special-edition jersey auction by the Brown Bears tonight.
The winner will be determined by goal differential. The second game of the series will be Wednesday in Wasilla at 7 p.m.
The Avalanche have a six wins and a shootout loss against the Brown Bears this season. Both teams have struggled lately. The Brown Bears have gone 10 games without picking up a win. Their last win was the shootout victory over the Avalanche on Oct. 23.
In their last game, the Brown Bears did put an end to a nine-game streak without a point by posting a shootout loss against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
The Avalanche have not won in six games. During that stretch, Alaska did have one shootout loss to Fairbanks.
That stretch has cost the Avs second place in the tough North American Hockey League West Division. Wenatchee leads the division at 27-5-2, while Fairbanks is second at 19-11-1 and Alaska is third at 16-7-6. The Brown Bears are in last in the division at 5-22-2.
The West Division now has three of the league's top four records.
Last week, the Avs and Brown Bears completed a trade, with former Kenai River captain Jed McGlasson and Kyle Van going to Alaska, and defenseman Raymond Stenehjem coming to the Brown Bears.
With the loss of McGlasson, Doug Beck is now the leading scorer for the Brown Bears, with four goals and eight assists. Kenai Central product Brad Fusaro, a forward with five goals and four assists, takes over as captain.
Nardo Nagtzaam leads the Avs with 13 goals and 15 assists. Nagtzaam is tied for ninth in the league in scoring.
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