Four hockey games in four days – the annual NAHL Showcase in Minnesota was a grind that included all 32 clubs, 64 total games in the sprawling NSC Super Rink’s eight sheets of ice, and drew more than 300 scouts.
Among Alaska’s three entries in Blaine, the Anchorage Wolverines fared best, going 2-1-1 under first-year head coach Nick Walters. His club savored some elite sniping from Belarusian forward Fyodor Nikolayenya, who merely racked five goals at the Showcase.
Meanwhile, the Kenai River Brown Bears, the only Alaska team to qualify for the Robertson Cup playoffs last spring, went 2-2-0. And the Fairbanks Ice Dogs finally put one in the win column in their Showcase finale Saturday to go 1-2-1.
Nikolayenya opened the Showcase with a hat trick in a 5-4 overtime loss to Rochester. He closed the event with a short-handed strike in Saturday’s 5-0 win over North Iowa, which also featured 29 saves from Liam Beerman. Nikolayenya’s six goals in five games overall tie him for the lead league and he’s an early Cy Young candidate – six goals, zero assists.
Anchorage’s Bryce Monrean, ticketed for UAF, joined the Wolverines (3-1-1 overall) after two full seasons with Kenai River. He banked five assists in the Showcase.
— NAHL (@NAHLHockey) September 15, 2023
While Kenai River (3-2-0 overall) went 2-2-0 in the Showcase, it opened and closed the event by surrendering leads. The Brown Bears led Oklahoma 3-0 after one period Wednesday, then succumbed 4-3. They twice led Rochester by two goals Saturday, but they gave up three third-period goals in a 6-5 loss that wasted Marko Giourof’s hat trick. Kenai River enjoyed a 25-save bagel from 6-foot-6 Swedish goalie Peter Wickstrom Sturmer in Friday’s 3-0 win over Odessa.
The Ice Dogs (1-4-1 overall) finally won their first game of the season Saturday, when they rode Tyler Krivtsov’s 32-save performance.
The road grind continues for all three Alaska entries before they head to the 49th state. The clubs all have four road games left in the Lower 48 before they fly home.