Well, this works out nicely – all three Alaska entries in the North American Hockey League have something on which to hang their helmets.
The Kenai River Brown Bears and Fairbanks Ice Dogs are tied atop the Midwest Division standings in the 29-team league. And the Anchorage Wolverines, who sit sixth in the eight-team division, nonetheless lead the three-team intrastate competition, known as the Club 49 Cup.
Kenai River (15-9-1, 31 points) and Fairbanks (14-8-3 31 points) lead the Midwest after the Brown Bears beat the Wolverines 2-1 in OT on Saturday and Fairbanks lost 3-2 in OT to the Springfield Junior Blues, who are last in the division. Anchorage (8-9-5, 21 points) has two games in hand over its Alaska rivals.
Fairbanks is accustomed to living large – the Ice Dogs are usually very good. All Anchorage managed last season in its first go-round was to make it to the Robertson Cup championship game. But this is fairly unfamiliar, and terrific, territory for Kenai River – its 15 wins in 25 games is one more victory than it managed in 60 games last season, when it went 14-41-5.
Meanwhile, the Club 49 Cup standings:
Kenai River prospered Saturday when defenseman Caleb Huffman of Anchorage scored just 13 ticks into extra time. Huffman’s 3-10—13 totals in 25 games ties him for 13th among defensemen in league scoring. The Brown Bears continued to get magnificent production from goalie Bryant Marks of Wasilla. The UAA commit stopped 28 shots to improve to 6-4-0, with a 1.97 goals-against average that sits eighth in the league and a .935 save percentage that ranks fifth. Anchorage’s lone goal came from defenseman Trent Powell of Soldotna, who is a Long Island University commit. The helpers on his goal came from UAF commit Aiden Westin of Anchorage and Cooper Morris of Anchorage.
Kenai River beat visiting Anchorage 4-2 on Friday, with Huffman chipping in another goal and UAF commit Bryce Monrean of Anchorage launching a career-high nine shots on goal. Monrean’s 98 shots in 25 games ranks second in the league, just one shot off the lead.
Meanwhile, Fairbanks’ 3-2 OT loss Saturday came with an assist from Billy Renfrew of Fairbanks, who had two helpers, including one on the game-winning goal, in Friday’s 3-2 win over Springfield. Renfrew owns a seven-game point streak, the longest current streak in the league, and 5-6—11 totals in that span. The longest point streak in the league this season was authored by Westin, who racked 19 points in his 11-game heater. Monrean is tied for the third-longest point streak in the NAHL this season with nine points in eight games.