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Bears take on the Avalanche

Bears take Avalanche precaution: In last trip to Sports Center, Wasilla tagged Kenai River with 8-1 loss

By Mike Nesper | Peninsula Clarion

After three weeks, the 8-1 loss to the Alaska Avalanche of Wasilla is still fresh in minds of the Kenai River Brown Bears.

The Brownies (5-14-1) will look to avenge the loss tonight and Saturday as they play host to a two-game series against the Avalanche (13-3-4). The puck drops both nights at 7:30 p.m. at the Soldotna Sports Center.

\”It\’s definitely unacceptable to let the same thing happen again,\” said interim head coach Oliver David.

In the time off, David said he\’s had an ongoing intrasquad competition each day at practice.

\”We competed hard against each other,\” he said. \”We really haven\’t taken a day off.\”

The daily competitions at practice were to keep the team\’s speed at game level. David said he hopes the time away from consistent games won\’t be an issue.

Five new players have been added to Kenai River\’s roster. Dajon Mingo, Mike Greene and Trenton Krueger have since left the team. Mingo was traded to the Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild and Greene and Krueger were released last week.

With several new additions to the team, it may take a few games for the new players to adjust to the level of play in the North American Hockey League, David said.

\”That might show up against us on the scoreboard but I know patience is a virtue in this situation,\” he said.

Since returning home from a 12-game road stint to open the season, the fans have been growing in numbers and volume, David said. The team appreciates the support and players often mention how screaming fans help them on the ice, he said.

\”We hope that that continues,\” he added.

The Brown Bears split two games with the Avs on Oct. 23 and 24 in Soldotna. The Brownies took the first game after Jed McGlasson scored in the eighth round of a shootout. The Avs evened the series the following night with an 8-1 rout over Kenai River.

The Brown Bears currently sit in last place of the NAHL West Division with 11 points and Alaska is in second with 30 points.

Mingo will make his return to the Sports Center on Tuesday and Wednesday when Kenai River hosts the Wenatchee Wild for a two-game series. In two games played with the Wild, Mingo has tallied three points.

Mingo was traded last week as per his request. Kenai River got forward Jesse Ramsey in the deal.

Though the West Division\’s top team is now more of a threat with Mingo, David said his team is up to the challenge.

\”We\’ve been working real hard and if we didn\’t like challenges, we shouldn\’t be hockey players,\” he said. \”Anything worth anything is not easy.\”

The Brown Bears dropped two close games to the Wild during their last meeting in Soldotna. In the 2-0 and 2-1 losses, goaltender Mike Martin played well, David said.

He said his team is looking forward to competing against a top-level team like Wenatchee.

Kenai River was also involved in community outreach activities during its three-week break. Team members helped the Kenai Chamber of Commerce with an event, worked at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank and hosted a Halloween carnival at the Soldotna Sports Center.

The carnival, which took place on Oct. 31, offered games and open ice for the public to come and skate, David said. He estimated between 300 and 400 people attended the event.

The team also attended a University of Alaska Anchorage hockey game against the visiting Boston University Terriers. The Brown Bears met with the coaching staff of both teams and discussed what it takes to play at the Division I college level, David said.

Mike Nesper can be reached at mike.nesper@peninsulaclarion.com.