FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks Ice Dogs put the hammer down on the Kenai River Brown Bears to complete a sweep of their opening round North American Hockey League West Division playoff series Friday night at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Fairbanks’ 7-2 victory gave the Ice Dogs a 3-0 sweep of the series that began last weekend in Fairbanks when the Ice Dogs skated to a 5-1 win in the series opener and a 6-1 victory the next night.
The Ice Dogs outscored the Brown Bears 17-4 in the three games.
Fairbanks advances to the best-of-five West Division Championship Series against the Wenatchee Wild starting April 15 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
Wenatchee advanced by completing a sweep of the Alaska Avalanche with a 4-2 win Friday night in Wasilla.
Ice Dogs general manager Rob Proffitt said the first three games of the series will be played in Fairbanks and the last two, if necessary, will be played in Wenatchee.
Games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 15-16 and 6 p.m. .on April 17.
Friday night’s game was tied 2-2 after the first period, but from that point on it was all Fairbanks.
“In the first period we were a little sluggish and Joe Phillippi was outstanding in goal and kept us in the game,” Ice Dogs coach Josh Hauge said. “We were the better team the rest of the way.”
Alex Jensen took over in the second period, scoring a natural hat trick to give the Ice Dogs a 5-2 lead.
“Alex Jensen was a flat out stud tonight,” Hauge said. “He was the best player on the ice tonight.”
Jensen also had an assist on Gabe Levin’s goal in the third period.
Zach Vierling and Charlie Thauwald scored goals in the first period for Fairbanks to tie the game 1-1 and 2-2, respectively. After Jensen scored three in the second, Levin and Vierling finished off the scoring in the third.
JT Osborn and Jack Callahan had three assists for the Ice Dogs, while Levin had a pair. Tyler Voigt, Tayler Munson, Brock Carlston and Preston Hodge had one helper each.
Phillippi made 21 saves in the first period to keep the game closes and finished with 46 on the night The Ice Dogs managed 32 shots on goal.
Now the Ice Dogs face Wenatchee, with the winner getting to play in the Robertson Cup Finals at the end of the month in Topeka, Kan.
“It’ll be nice to give the players two days off,” Hauge said.
“The coaching staff will be watching film for the next 48 hours in order to be ready to go at practice on Monday morning,” he added
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.