Thunder falls to Kenai

Published 8:26 am Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Albert Lea Thunder expects to learn many lessons this season as a first-year franchise, it was just hoping not to have to learn them so quickly.

The Kenai River Brown Bears defeated the Thunder 3-2 Wednesday night at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, as part of the NAHL Showcase, by utilizing their offensive speed.

The Brown Bears scored 38 seconds into the game and their ability to score quick continued the rest of the night. Nick Simson was left all alone in the slot and Chris Annunziato found him for the one-timer and a 1-0 lead.

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“They had a lot of odd-man rushes and just capitalized on them,” Thunder forward John Affolter said. “A couple of mental breakdowns and they capitalized on that.”

Albert Lea forward Danny Wood got the Thunder back into the game with the tying goal when Tom Glomski broke down the near boards and slid the puck across the ice to the Wood who was on the back post.

Albert Lea outshot Kenai River 42-34 in the game, but the Brown Bears made the most of their opportunities.

The Brown Bears moved quickly from defense to offense on the second goal of the night. Kenai River worked the puck down low to Brad Fusaro behind the Albert Lea net who found an open Kevin Wentland in front and Wentland buried the puck for a 2-1 Brown Bear lead.

“I thought we were a fast team,” Thunder coach Brad Zangs said. “They were a fast team.”

The Thunder had a chance to even the game with a 5-on-3 power play for a 1:16 in the period, but the closest Albert Lea got to scoring was when forward Colin Moberly hit a post from the point. Albert Lea finished the night 0-for-6 on the power play.

“We have to bear down on our power play,” Thunder forward Niko Kapetanovic said. “No excuses, we’ve got to capitalize on those.”

Instead Kenai River turned the tables and broke from their zone quickly as the Thunder power play expired and scored their third goal of the game. Ryan Goodmanson broke in down the near boards and sent a shot into the top corner of the net to beat Albert Lea goalie Brady Sand.

“You have to learn to bury that on the power play,” Zangs said. “It is disappointing. It’s a 5-on-3, you’re supposed to get the puck in the net and get quality shots. We just didn’t take quality opportunities.”

The Thunder came out strong in the third period and had 21 shots in the stanza, but was only able to get one goal. John Affolter scored on a pass from Mark Ellis from behind the net at the 6:10 mark in the third to make the game 3-2.

Limiting odd-man rushes was going to be a key for the Thunder entering the game, but it allowed just one too many against Kenai River.

“Two mental mistakes in the second period cost us the game,” Zangs said. “I’ve been preaching mental, mental, mental.”

Albert Lea’s fitness showed in the third period as the Brown Bears started to tire, the Thunder took advantage and had its best scoring opportunities of the night in the third period.

“The third period we wore a team down,” Zangs said. “I am hoping that we wear a lot of teams down.”

1ST 2nd 3rd

Albert Lea – 1 0 1

Kenai River – 1 2 0


1st period: Kenai River – Nick Simson 1 (Chris Annunziato) :38

Albert Lea – Danny Wood 1 (Tom Glomski) 3:28

2nd period: Kenai River – Kevin Wentlund 1 (Gary Astalos, Matt Bennett) 5:23

Kenai River – Ryan Goodmanson 1 (unassisted) 15:54

3rd period: Albert Lea – John Affolter 1 (Mark Ellis) 6:10

POWER-PLAY CONVERSION: Albert Lea – 0 for 6, Kenai River 0 for 4

SHOTS ON GOAL: 1st 2nd 3rd

Albert Lea 6 15 21

Kenai River 6 11 17