Bryce Monrean

After enduring misery last season, the Kenai River Brown Bears are off to a promising start this go-round, which continued Thursday with an overtime road win and a goaltender pledging his commitment to UAA.

Center and assistant captain Bryce Monrean of Anchorage, who has committed to UAF, delivered the OT dagger in a 2-1 North American Hockey League win over the Janesville Jets in Wisconsin. Just 46 seconds into 3-on-3, Monrean knifed down the slot and redirected a centering pass from defenseman and assistant captain Caleb Huffman of Anchorage.

Monrean, 19, last season finished second on the Brown Bears in points with 10-28—38 totals in 60 games. Huffman is on the rise, tied for second in points on the club this season with 1-4—5 totals in five games. That’s particularly noteworthy given his 0-7—7 totals in 55 games last season.

The victory lifted Kenai River to 3-2-0, no small improvement for a franchise that last season went 14-41-5 – 28th out of 29 teams on the circuit for players ages 16-20 – and didn’t post its third win until its 16th game.

Earlier Thursday, Brown Bears goaltender Bryant Marks of Wasilla announced his commitment to play college hockey for the Seawolves.

Bryant Marks

Marks, 18, last season went 5-16-0 for Kenai River, with a 3.84 goals-against average and .889 save percentage. Those digits are modest, but the Brown Bears surrendered the second-most goals in the league (256) and featured the worst goal differential in the league (-109). That’s never all on the masked men – defense is a team stat.

Marks, a 5-foot-11, 170-pounder, has only played one game this season – Nils Wallstrom of Sweden has started four of Kenai River’s five games. Still, Marks’ one game proved a gem. He stopped 25 of 26 shots in a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Rebels at the NAHL Showcase in Minnesota last week.

Kenai River wasn’t the only Alaska entry to flourish in the NAHL Thursday. The Anchorage Wolverines (2-2-1) trailed by two goals deep into the second period before rallying to generate a 3-2 road win over the Chippewa Steel in Wisconsin.

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