The Anchorage Wolverines swept the Kenai River Brown Bears on Friday and Saturday in North American Hockey League action at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
The Wolverines move to 23-15-4-1 and remain in third place in the Midwest Division. The Brown Bears are at 11-31-3-2 and in last place in the division.
In the Club 49 Cup, Anchorage moves into a tie with Fairbanks at 21 points apiece. The Bears have nine points.
Kenai River hosts the Minnesota Magicians on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.
Saturday, the Bears lost 1-0, with a second-period power play goal by Aiden Westin serving as the difference in the game.
Shane Soderwall made 36 saves for the shutout for Anchorage, while Bryant Marks stopped 35 for the Bears. There were fights in the first and second periods.
Friday, the Bears lost 7-4.
The Brown Bears put themselves on the board quickly in the first period, with Ryan Finch putting a goal up after just 28 seconds of play and then Barak Braslavski scoring with 12:42 left in the frame to put Kenai ahead, 2-0, at the end of the first period.
The Wolverines came back in the second, scoring three goals. Colton Friesen slapped in Anchorage’s first with 18:57 left, Westin had the second with 12:27 left and Talon Sigurdson put in a third with 8:31 left in the period. Anchorage led at the end of the second, 3-2.
Anchorage’s Danny Reis scored the fourth Wolverines goal just over two minutes into the third period, with Matt Johnson putting in another for the Wolverines with 4:36 left, Sigurdson scoring on a power play, and Hunter Schmitz scoring again with 3:17 to go.
The Brown Bears tried to level up at the end of the third period — Finch slapping in another goal with 2:27 left and Sean Henry scoring with 37 seconds left of play.
Taylor Shaw, the Kenai interim head coach, said he wants to work on maintaining energy for all three periods.
“We have to be better at not picking and choosing when we want to play our game,” he said. “We have to be able to do it for a full 60 minutes.”
Henry, a defenseman for the Brown Bears, said Kenai does well when the team starts out strong.
“I think what worked well for us was when we got speed going in the first period,” he said. “When we … got on them fast, we were a lot better.”
At crunch time, Henry said the level of play really amps up.
“It definitely gets intense out there, like you obviously want to come back and win the game,” he said. “You want to score, you want to do anything you can to help the team.”
Anchorage head coach Mike Aikens said his team was able to take advantage of a few key power plays.
“We battled back and kind of took over in the second period, and I think we cleaned some things up,” he said.
Aikens said the Brown Bears came out quickly and that once the Wolverines were done playing catchup they were able to capitalize on scoring opportunities.
“This team plays hard always against us, and they’re always kind of a thorn in our side,” he said. “And you know, we took advantage (of) some opportunities in the second where the puck went in for us.”
Kenai had 25 shots on goal, and Anchorage had 36. The Wolverines scored on two out of their five power plays. The Brown Bears didn’t score on any of their three power plays.
Wolverine goalie Raythan Robbins had 21 saves. Cole Wheaton, in the net for Kenai, had 29 saves.
Wolverines 7, Brown Bears 4
Anchorage 0 3 4 —7
Kenai River 2 0 2 —4
First period — 1. Kenai River, Finch (Braslavski, Ostbloom), 0:28; 2. Kenai River, Braslavski (Finch, Ostbloom), 7:25. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 3. Anchorage, Friesen (Cichosz, Reineke), pp, 1:03; 4. Anchorage, Westin (Ca. Morris, Cichosz), 7:33; 5. Anchorage, Sigurdson (Cichosz, Westin), sh, 11:32. Penalties — Anchorage 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 2 for 4:00.
Third period — 6. Anchorage, Reis (Albers, Krock), 2:13; 7. Anchorage, Johnson (Reineke, Bischoff), 10:07; 8. Anchorage, Schmitz (Pederson, Panasenko), 15:25; 9. Anchorage, Sigurdson (Ca. Morris, Westin), pp, 16:44; 10. Kenai River, Finch (Braslavski, Ostbloom), 17:33; 11. Kenai River, Henry (Triggs, Stevens), 19:23. Penalties — Anchorage 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Anchorage 7-12-17—36; Kenai River 9-8-8—25.
Goalies — Anchorage, Robbins (25 shots, 21 saves); Kenai River, Wheaton (36 shots, 29 saves).
Power plays — Anchorage 2 for 5; Kenai River 0 for 3.
Anchorage Wolverines defenseman Ben Edwards shields the puck from Kenai River Brown Bears forward Bryce Monrean on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)