Typically a sweep will give a junior hockey team momentum. Aspiration to continue the fight. And typically a long road trip will do the exact opposite.
The Coulee Region Chill began 2018 with a sweep over the Minnesota Wilderness of the Central Division. That was prior to last weeks annual journey to take on Alaskan Central Division opponents, the Kenai River Brown Bears and Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
Travel isn’t an excuse, at least not one that head coach Ryan Egan would use for his hockey team. But it is certainly a factor for any teams having to make the trip.
For the Chill it was the Brown Bears that were first on the schedule for their five-game slate. Friday night’s game started slow with Kenai River jumping out to a 2-0 lead after the first period. Andrew McGlynn teamed up with Jackson Decker to score on a power play after a minor hooking call on Kenai River.
In the third period, with the Chill facing a 1-3 deficit, Kevin Bryant scored to give Coulee Region life midway through the frame (Holland; Dabrowski). The clock would eventual strike zero on the Chill’s night, falling behind another solid effort from Emil Zetterquist in net.
Saturday night both teams seemed to find the net a lot easier; after a scoreless first period in which both teams combined for 15 shots, both Coulee Region and Kenai River both scored twice in the second, Jackson Decker and Tomas Vochozka both scoring for the Chill in the last four minutes of the period.
Fast forward to the tail end of the final period. Much like the period before, the Chill were facing a two-goal deficit in the final five minutes. This time it was Connor Szmul and Gavin Holland that found the back of the net, forcing overtime.
In what was a back-and-forth regulation it was the Brown Bears that had their way in the extra period, finding their way past Chill goalie Josh Graziano. The Chill would lose 4-5.
The upcoming weekend doesn’t get any easier for Egan and the Chill. The three-game series against Fairbanks begins on Thursday night and then it’s back to Wisconsin, adjusting back to the Central time zone and preparing for a mid-week contest against the Minnesota Magicians.