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Fairbanks Ice Dogs clobber Kenai River Brown Bears, 5-1

FAIRBANKS — If you hadn’t picked up a copy of the Daily News-Miner all week and walked into the Big Dipper Ice Arena on Friday night, there’s a good chance you would have been confused. The teams on the ice were wearing green and white — the Kenai River Brown Bears — and white, blue and gold — the Fairbanks Ice Dogs?

The Ice Dogs sported throwback Alaska Gold Kings jerseys in Friday night’s North American Hockey League game against the visiting Brown Bears. The wardrobe change didn’t throw off the team’s game, however.

“The jerseys could have been a big distraction,” Ice Dogs forward John Stampohar said after Fairbanks’ 5-1 victory. “But we were ready to go right away and didn’t let up.”

The Ice Dogs, who advanced to 29-12-2 atop the West Division, took a 1-0 lead just

46 seconds into the game. Alexander Jensen scored on an assist from Matt Millis and Tayler Munson.

Fairbanks head coach Josh Hauge said although the score was in his team’s favor, he wasn’t exactly overjoyed with what he saw in the first 20 minutes.

“I thought our first period was sloppy,” Hauge said. “Luckily, Joe (goalie Joe Phillippi) made good saves and kept us in it to go on and win it.”

Phillippi finished with 30 saves, one less than Kenai River goalie Josh Benton, who recorded 31.

During both intermissions, the Ice Dogs’ throwback jerseys were auctioned off to the audience. Fourteen players’ shirts were auctioned for an average of $428.57. All 14 jerseys raked in a total of $6,000. Forward Gabe Levin’s sold for the highest price: $800. Millis’ received $600, and Jensen and JT Osborn each brought in $500 for theirs.

Perhaps it was the motivation of being auctioned off or maybe it was good skating; whatever it was, the Ice Dogs had a lot of it in the second period, putting up three points and giving up just one to take a 4-1 lead heading into the final 20 minutes.

Local boys Jared Linnell and Alec Hadjukovich picked up assists when Millis scored on a rebound at the 5:10 mark of the second period.

Brad Duwe answered 1 minute, 20 seconds later, putting the Brown Bears (22-19-5) on the board at the 6:30 mark. Doug Beck and Brett Lubanski recorded the assists.

Linnell and Hajdukovich teamed up again for a pair of assists as fellow Fairbanks kid Tayler Munson scored at 7:18, and Stampohar put one between the pipes on a puck delivered from Zach Vierling and Osborn. His goal came at the 16:20 mark of the middle period.

“I was just playing my game,” the 6-foot-4 Minnesota native said. “I’m not a fancy player. I just get pucks deep and hit guys.”

Hauge unknowingly used the exact same phrases — “not fancy” and “deep pucks” — when he described his team’s second-period performance.

“Offensively, we’re pretty talented,” he said. “Our forwards get the puck and can control it, and our defense does a good job of getting pucks to our forwards.”

Stampohar picked up his second score of the night in the third period on one of Fairbanks’ four power play opportunities. Vierling and Osborn teamed up for the assists again.

The teams face off again tonight at 7:30, and both Hauge and Stampohar plan on tweaking very little, if anything, from Friday’s performance.

“It’s been an even series with these guys all year,” Hauge said. “We’ve got to finish them off.”

“We’re going to do the same thing, keep it simple,” Stampohar added. “It wouldn’t make any sense to play any other way.”

Contact staff writer Renee Thony at 459-7583.

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