The Kenai River Brown Bears prepare for the upcoming season in the North American Hockey League. It's a season many people did not expect. The team suspended operations at the end of last season. Fans though, raised enough money to keep the Brown Bears on the ice.

Soldotna's Preston Weeks is among those in camp at the Kenai Multi-Purpose Facility.

"The new guys, they're really looking to help out, I think we're going to be good this year," said Weeks who enters his season with his hometown team.

Eleven players return from last year's squad; three hail from the Kenai Peninsula, seven from Alaska. The team's rookie head coach Josh Petrich says that's by design.

"It's very exciting to have local flavor, and we want to be Alaska's team, we want to be the destination Alaska's top players want to play at," Petrich told KTVA Sports.

The Brown Bears have accomplished their main goal: getting back out on the ice. Now comes their second goal: doing something they have not done since 2011 -- make the playoffs.

Petrich likes what he's seen, so far, especially when it comes to competition and speed.

"Our rink in Soldotna, it's a big sheet, it's one of the biggest sheets of ice in North America, we wanted to build our team to fit us at home," said Petrich.

A home the Kenai River Brown Bears no longer worry about leaving. The team hosts Fairbanks for two exhibition games, September 15 and 16 at the Soldotna Sports Complex.