No. 6 New Mexico Ice Wolves (8-26-2-2, 20pts) vs. No. 2 Kenai River Brown Bears (22-13-2-3, 49pts)
at Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, AK
Time: 7:30 p.m. AKST (Friday) | 7:30 p.m. AKST (Saturday)
What You Need to Know:
Season Series: 2-0
NMO: 19pts, Dominique (8g-11a)
KNR: 43pts, Krajnik (13g-30a)
WE MEET AGAIN:
For the second time in only two weeks, the Ice Wolves will face the Brown Bears. This time though it will be in their den. This weekend will also conclude the season series between these two non-divisional opponents. When these teams last saw one another, the Ice Wolves dominated the first game and then had their biggest comeback of the season the following night. They scored six goals each night, setting a season high in goals for a weekend. New Mexico finished the first game with 57 shots, also a season high. While Kenai is in second place in the Midwest, they are currently on a seven-game losing streak (0-5-1-1). Their last win came on Dec. 20th vs. Janesville (3-1). Since then, they have scored 19 goals and have allowed 33.
THE LAST FRONTIER:
This is the final weekend that the Ice Wolves will play a team outside their division. It will also be the third-straight weekend of playing the Alaska teams. The Ice Wolves are 2-3-1 versus the two teams that call the 49th state home. This past weekend they took on the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Fairbanks won both games but New Mexico did force overtime on Friday, which earned them a point. Putting them on a four-game point streak (season high).
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE:
While the Brown Bears may be in a slump, they perform extremely well on home ice (14-4-2-1) as compared to when they are on the road (8-9-0-2). A reason as to why Kenai is better at home could be that they play on an Olympic-sized rink. They are the only team in the NAHL that does not have a traditional sheet of ice. Meaning that there is more ice to cover, so speed will be crucial this weekend if the Ice Wolves want to win the season series.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Ice Wolves (F: #7 – Spencer Rudrud)
Spencer is currently in his first year of juniors and is already having a phenomenal start. The Eden Prairie, MN native is second on the team in points with 17 (8g-9a). He is tied with Alex Dominique and Philip Ekberg for most goals on the team (8). Rudrud picked up a goal each night the last time the Ice Wolves played Kenai. The 18-year-old has spent the last three seasons playing for Eden Prairie High (USHS-MN) recording 48 points (20g-28a) in 69 games. The 6’1” 190-pound forward will certainly look to use the bigger sheet of ice to his advantage.
Brown Bears (F: #24 – Zach Krajnik)
This is Krajnik’s third season in the NAHL (all with Kenai). The Eagle River, AK native is committed to the University of Alaska-Anchorage (WCHA). In his rookie season (2017-18), Krajnik finished seventh on the team in points (7g-19a). Last season he finished in first, totaling 50 points (17g-33a). He is once again sitting atop the point’s table with 43 (13g-30a). The 20-year-old is the only member of the Brown Bears that is averaging more than a point-per-game (1.10). The last time he played New Mexico, Krajnik ended the weekend with three points (1g-2a).