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NAHL Stuff: Springfield Jr. Blues fall 5-1 to Kenai River in home opener


Well, that could have gone a little better tonight. The Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the Springfield Jr. Blues 5-1 in the Jr. Blues home opener at the Nelson Center in Springfield, Illinois. The crowd of 698 watched as penalties and turnovers whittled away at Springfield's scoring ability.

The first period found Kenai River opening up the scoring at 3:09 with a shot from Dylan Meier. A hooking call to Springfield on forward (and local player) Trevor Stone at 3:43 started a long series of penalty kills for the home team. The next penalty to Springfield at 8:14 saw Roy Grandov go to the box for hooking as well. This penalty kill was short-lived as Lucas Kohls scored for Kenai River at 8:16, bringing the score to 2-0 for the Brown Bears. Alex Baskakov's interference penalty at 11:57 was killed successfully. The first period ended with 22 shots total from Kenai River and 16 from Springfield.

Springfield received another three penalties in the second period that set up a second power play goal for Kenai River. Early in the period the Jr. Blues seemed to have a goal to answer the Brown Bears, but the referee whistled the play dead as the net had gone off its moorings. Conor Deal scored the first goal of the period for the Brown Bears at 3:58. Shortly thereafter, Springfield defenseman Theo Tydingco took a hooking penalty at 4:28. At 8:37, forward Oliver Takacsi-Nagy took two minutes off for slashing. Tydingco found himself in the box again at 12:00 for checking from behind. The PA announcer said it was James McGing instead. This allowed Albin Karlsson to score for Kenai River at 13:15. At 15:12, the Brown Bears took their first penalty of the night when Jake Bushey was whistled off for holding. Ten seconds later, the Jr. Blues power play went to 4-on-4 play as Roy Grandov was sent to the box for elbowing. This allowed Vincent Stefan to score an even-strength goal at 16:41 for Kenai River's last goal of the night. A slashing penalty called on Zack Zulkanycz at 19:39 ended the period with the Jr. Blues carrying the rest of the power play into the third period. Kenai River outshot Springfield 14-7 and led 5-0 after two periods.

It looked as if fate was about to smile upon Springfield at the beginning of the third period, but instead it gave its best trollish smile and "problem?" caption. Matt Seidel went to the box at 0:37 to give the Jr. Blues a short 5-on-3 power play. This went completely unconverted. Veteran Springfield defenseman Cody Dixon gave the boys a shot in the arm at 5:01 when he scored the lone goal for the Jr. Blues and broke Kenai River's shutout. He also was sent to the penalty box at 5:08 for cross checking. The rest of the third period saw Kenai River receive two penalties that the Jr. Blues were unable to use to score, followed by a fight at 14:12 between Springfield's Russell Jordan and Kenai River's Ansel Dusenberg. Jordan got an additional two minutes for slashing. The period ended with the Jr. Blues outshooting the Brown Bears 12-6, but the visitors from Alaska came away with the win with a score of 5-1. Springfield had a total of 48 turnovers in the game, which combined with 23 penalty minutes cost numerous scoring opportunities. At least the Jr. Blues got some valuable penalty kill experience. Kenai River was 2 for 9 on their power plays; Springfield went 0 for 5 on theirs.

The crowd was a sparse 698, as it's high school football season and apparently people think they're required by city or county ordinance to attend those games. It was disappointing to see the crowds cut in half from the preseason games. The crowd should bump up a little tomorrow night.

The next game between Kenai River and Springfield will be held on the 22nd of September at 7pm at the Nelson Center in Springfield. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids under 18, senior citizens and veterans. Come watch the boys battle back and get another win on the way to the playoffs!

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