The Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the host Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild 3-2 on Friday in a shootout in North American Hockey League play.
The Brown Bears won the shootout 3-1 to improve to 8-4-0 and tie the Fresno (Calif.) Monsters for second place in the West Division. Wenatchee falls to 4-4-1. Fairbanks is on top of the division at 9-1-5.
Dating back to last year, Kenai River has now won three of its last four at Wenatchee, which is a tough place to play. Friday, the Wild drew 2,370 fans.
The Brown Bears also continue to enjoy success in games that go into overtime. Kenai River has won all four extra-session contests this year, including three in shootouts.
"It may sound elementary, but when you play in overtime hungry, it's very different than letting the pressure of overtime get to you," said Kenai River coach Oliver David via cell phone. "We really get after it in overtime."
Last year, the Brown Bears were just 3-7 in games that went into overtime.
"It's 180 degrees from last year's team," David said. "These guys are really hungry and the goalies are capable of keeping the pucks out of the net."
After an overtime session that saw the Wild record three shots and the Brown Bears get two, Kenai River got busy in the shootout when defenseman Jacob Davidson scored in the first round.
"He probably won't have 10 points on the season, but he made a very skilled move and went five-hole," David said. "That got the bench fired up."
Shawn Pauly also scored in the first round for the Wild, but he would be the only one to solve Brown Bears goalie Austin Severson.
Ryan Walker, another defenseman, scored in the second round to put Kenai River ahead to stay.
"He ripped a shot off the crossbar and post," David said. "It chimed like three times like a cow bell coming in for dinner."
After Brett Lubanski and Bobby Murphy missed, Zac Lazzaro scored to end the game. Lazzaro also ended an overtime contest on Oct. 7 against the Monsters with a goal.
In regulation, David said his team did a good job of grinding out a tie against Wenatchee's defensive style. The Brown Bears finished with 27 shots, while the Wild had 33.
After getting torched on the power play in a recently completed set with the Monsters, Kenai River held the Wild to 0 for 7 on the man advantage. The Brown Bears also got the first goal of the game on a shorthanded tally by Alex Frere, who now has 11 goals in 12 games.
David said Frere pounced on a mistake at the point and scored on a breakaway.
Wenatchee tied the game when Ben Carey scored the second period's lone goal. With 16:36 to play, Jesse Ramsey, on assist by Skyler McKnight put the Bears ahead. Pauly tied the game with 12:46 to play.
"To be honest, both of their goals were soft," David said. "We were not beaten and we were not out of position."
The coach said those two negative plays do not take away from the positive of getting a win in Wenatchee.
The same two teams hook up Saturday at 6:05 p.m. ADT in Wenatchee.
Brown Bears 3, Wild 2, SO
Kenai River 1 0 1 0 1 —3
Wenatchee 0 1 1 0 0 —2
First period — 1. Kenai River, Frere (un), sh, 18:12. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Wenatchee 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Wenatchee, Carey (un), 3:24. Penalties — Kenai River 4 for 8:00; Wenatchee 3 for 6:00.
Third period — 3. Kenai River, Ramsey (McKnight), 3:24; 4. Wenatchee, Pauly (Johnson), 7:14. Penalties — Kenai River 2 for 4:00; Wenatchee 4 for 8:00.
Overtime — none. Penalties — none.
Shootout — Kenai River 3 (Davidson G, Walker G, Lubanski NG, Murphy NG, Lazzaro G); Wenatchee 1 (Pauly G, Redmond NG, Tafoya NG, McHugh NG).
Shots on goal — Kenai River 6-8-10-2—26; Wenatchee 7-6-17-3—33.
Goalies — Kenai River, Severson (33 shots, 31 saves); Wenatchee, Nichols (26 shots, 24 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 6; Wenatchee 0 for 7.