FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks Ice Dogs answered their coach’s call with flying colors.
After Saturday night’s 7-4 loss to the Wenatchee Wild, Ice Dogs coach Josh Hauge said Sunday’s three-game series finale was a “must-win” situation.
The Ice Dogs delivered as they skated to a 4-1 North American Hockey League win to cap a 10-game, season-opening road trip that ended with a 7-1-2 record.
“It really was a nice way to end the road trip,” Hauge said shortly after the Ice Dogs got off the ice Sunday evening. “It’s going to make getting up early and getting on the plane home a lot easier.”
Tyler Voigt scored a pair of goals, JT Osborn and John Stampohar each had one and goalie Joe Phillippi didn’t allow a goal until the final three minutes.
“Tyler played great all weekend,” Hauge said. “He played hard and made a lot of nice plays in all three games.”
The Ice Dogs opened the series with a 5-1 win Friday, but they suffered a 7-4 loss Saturday night.
Phillippi was especially sharp in the third period when the Wild turned up the pressure after the Ice Dogs took a 3-0 lead.
“We were playing conservative and trying to keep them to the outside, but we let them get a couple of great shots and he stopped them cold,” Hauge said. “He was great today.”
Voigt got the Ice Dogs on the board at 9:03 of the first period off assists from Charlie Thauwald and Zach Vierling.
Voigt followed with what proved to be the game-winning goal at 14:52 of the second, a power-play score off assists from Alexander Jensen and Sean O’Rourke.
Osborn’s unassisted goal at 10:58 of the third put the Ice Dogs in command.
Wenatchee broke up Phillippi’s bid for a shutout when Zach Frye slipped the puck in the net at 17:37 of the third, but the Ice Dogs extinguished any hope of a Wild comeback when Stampohar scored 23 seconds later.
Gave Levin and Robert Monfore picked up assists on Stampohar’s goal.
Phillippi wound up stopping 24 shots, including nine in the third period.
Hauge was more than happy with the results of the road trip.
“Usually you shoot for .500 when you go on the road, so I couldn’t be happier,” Hauge said.
Now, the Ice Dogs return to Alaska for the first time since training camp ended in early September. Fairbanks hosts its first home game against the Fresno Monsters at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
“We’re coming back to Fairbanks where we have the greatest home crowd advantage of any team in the league,” Hauge said. “It’s a great spot to be in right now.”
Contact sports editor Bob Eley at 459-7581.