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Fairbanks Ice Dogs beat Wichita Falls Wildcats, 5-3

FAIRBANKS – The Fairbanks Ice Dogs took care of business inside the Big Dipper Ice Arena on Friday night. Now they hope they can do the same thing tonight when they head outdoors for their North American Hockey League series finale against the Wichita Falls Wildcats.

The Ice Dogs snapped a 2-2 tie with three straight goals to start the third period and went on to claim a 5-3 victory against the Wildcats to move back into second place in the West division standings, two points ahead of the idle Alaska Avalanche.

\”We definitely needed that one,\” Ice Dogs coach Josh Hauge said. \”It was as much of a team effort as we\’ve had in a while.\”

Now that the first game of the series is finished, the Ice Dogs and Wildcats can concentrate on the Outdoor Game set for 7:30 tonight on the Dipper\’s Outdoor rink, which has been outfitted to hold an estimated 2,500 fans.

\”It would be crazy to say everyone wasn\’t looking forward to this game,\” Hauge said. \”If you\’ve never been to a hockey game, this is one you\’ll want to be part of because it\’s going to be pretty cool.\”

Cool, not only because the game is so unique, but cool because temperatures are supposed to be in the single digits during the game. Spectators are encouraged to dress warmly.

The Ice Dogs got contributions from five different goal-scorers and assists from eight other players to back a 26-save performance by goaltender Mike Taffe.

\”Going into the third period, it could have gone either way, but we got some bounces and put some pucks away,\” Hauge said. \”We needed this win at home for the fans, because they\’ve supported us even though we\’ve struggled a bit on our home ice.\”

Aaron McGill snapped the 2-2 tie with a goal at 4:31 of the third and Tyler Voigt knocked home what proved to be the game-winner 2:20 later. Jared Larson\’s goal at 11:22 provided an additional cushion before Wichita Falls\’ JT Osborn closed the game with a goal at the 19:08 mark.

Fairbanks jumped to a 1-0 lead when Kyle Politz found the back of the net 6:32 into the game, but Wichita Falls responded with goals from Brian Sheehan and Andy Cramer to gain a 2-1 advantage at the end of the first period.

The Ice Dogs scored the lone goal in the second period when Justin Kirchhevel lit the lamp off assists from McGill and Michael Juola.

\”It was great to see us get production from all four lines tonight,\” Hauge said.

Wichita Falls goalie PJ Musco had 37 saves.

Only seven penalties were called during the game, and four of those were off-setting. The Wildcats were 0 for 2 on the power play and the Ice Dogs were 0-1.

Contact sport editor Bob Eley at 459-7581.