Soldotna, Alaska – The Springfield Jr. Blues took a tumble against the Kenai River Brown Bears this past weekend by failing to pick up a point against their division rival. With the losses the Jr. Blues record is now 7-12-2-1 on the season and they sit in 5th place in the Midwest Division.
On Thursday night the Jr. Blues were riding high after a bounce back win against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs the previous weekend, however, the Brown Bears were ready for them. Kenai scored the game’s first four goals and despite being outshot 31-29, controlled nearly the entire 60 minutes. Caden Villegas scored the lone goal for Springfield assisted by Noah Marino and Aaron Swanson. Ryan Wilson got the start in net and stopped 25/29.
Friday night started similarly for the Jr. Blues as the Brown Bears scored twice early to take a 2-0 lead. In a break from Thursday night, the Jr. Blues responded late in the 1st as Swanson scored his 4th of the season to make it 2-1 before the break. Late in the 2nd period Hunter Longhi tied the game 2-2 on the power play, however, the Brown Bears would score twice in the final minute of the period to take a 4-2 lead into the 3rd period.
In a wild final period on Friday, the boys would score twice in a desperate rally only to run out of steam in the final stretch. Hugh Quinn scored his first goal with the Jr. Blues shorthanded to cut the lead to 4-3 before the Brown Bears answered back. Hunter McCurdy then scored his first career junior hockey goal to make it 5-4 and give the Jr. Blues life in the 3rd period. The final 10 minutes belonged to Kenai as they scored three times, twice on the power play and once on an empty net to complete an 8-4 victory.
Alex Proctor got the start in net and saved 45/52 shots. Danila Larionovs had two assists in the game, while Villegas, Proctor, Jonathan Panisa, Carson Jones, and Jayden Jensen each had one assist.
Heading into Saturday night the Jr. Blues were in desperate need of coming away with some points as the Janesville Jets continued to roll past them in the standings. The Brown Bears for the third consecutive night took an early lead and held on for the entire game. Longhi scored for the second night in a row in the 1st period, which at the time tied the game 1-1. Swanson added a goal of his own late in the 2nd period which made it 4-2 at the time, but the Brown Bears wound up winning 5-2.
Proctor got the nod in net and stopped 36/41. Panisa, Villegas, Larionovs, and Jeremy Gabriele each had assists in the game.
Jr. Blues Notes:
First Things First – Hunter McCurdy scored his first career junior hockey goal, Hugh Quinn scored his first goal since joining the Jr. Blues in September, Carson Jones picked up his first NAHL assist, and Alex Proctor also picked up his first assist over the weekend.
Mama, We’re Coming Home! – After nearly two weeks in Alaska, the Jr. Blues are finally back home in Springfield. The longest trip of the season is now in the past, the next longest trip will be to Shreveport, Louisiana in February
Beyond Hockey – There are moments in a season where hockey takes a back seat to real world issues and Saturday proved to us that the hockey community is as strong as any community in the United States. After the conclusion of Saturday night’s game the Jr. Blues took time to honor a Brown Bears fan who is battling cancer as each player stopped by where she was sitting in the corner to tap on the glass and wish her well. The act didn’t show up on the HockeyTV broadcast, but we were contacted by multiple people with the Brown Bears, including the fan who was honored, and it filled our hearts. Our love and support is with you Mrs. Johnston and we hope to see you the next time we’re up in Alaska!
The Jr. Blues will host the Janesville Jets this weekend on Friday and Saturday. The Jets have leap frogged the Jr. Blues after back-to-back sweeps of the Minnesota Magicians. Friday night’s game with the Jets will start at 7:05 pm with doors opening at 6:00 pm. We will be giving away tickets to an upcoming St. Louis Blues game that night as well as hosting a pregame happy hour!
On Saturday the game will start at 6:05 pm with doors opening at 5:00 pm. We will be giving away a Thanksgiving turkey to one lucky fan during the 1st intermission, and make sure to stick around after the game for a post-game skate with the team!