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Fairbanks Ice Dogs lose to Kenai River Brown Bears in shootout

FAIRBANKS – The Kenai River Brown Bears did the unthinkable on Saturday night.

With a 3-2 shootout win against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Saturday night at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, the last-place Brown Bears completed a three-game North American Hockey League sweep of the Ice Dogs in front of 2,222 fans at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.

All three games were by an identical 3-2 score.

It marked one of the rare times in Ice Dogs history that they haven\’t notched a victory in a three-game home series.

Fairbanks did salvage a point on Saturday night for taking the game into overtime, but that is little solace for the Ice Dogs, who went into the series with a 24-12-1 record, while the Brown Bears entered the series with an 7-26-2 mark.

Latvian goaltender Dainis Vasiljevs registered a whopping 41 saves and stopped all four Ice Dogs in the shootout to notch his second win in three nights.

\”We had so many chances,\” Ice Dogs coach Josh Hauge said in a telephone interview following the game. \”It was kind of a summation of the entire weekend. Every chance we had we just missed.

\”The first two nights I thought they (Kenai) deserved to win,\” Hauge said. \”Tonight, I felt like we deserved to win, but it wasn\’t in the stars or something.\”

Trailing 2-1 early in the third period, Kenai River tied the game when Kegan Kiel\’s shot from outside the blue line hit Ice Dogs goalie Mike Taffe in the shoulder and bounced into the net.

\”He\’ll probably never give up a goal like that again,\” Hauge said. \”It was just a frustrating night.\”

In the shootout, both goalies stopped the first three shooters, but Kenai River\’s Brett Lubanski scored on the fourth try and former Ice Dog Johan Skinnars put the nail in the coffin when he scored on the Brown Bears\’ fifth shot.

\”I\’ve got to give them credit,\” Hauge said of the Brown Bears. \”They really played hard every night and the new guys that they have really bought into their system.\”

The Ice Dogs jumped out in front Saturday night when Aaron McGill converted a penalty shot at 16:29 of the first period.

Kenai River\’s Shane Halaas tied the game at 12:48 of the second period, but the Ice Dogs regained the lead two minutes later when the NAHL\’s leading scorer, Mike Juola, registered a power-play goal at 14:52.

Then Kiel pulled Kenai River even in the third to set the stage for the shootout win that elevated the Brown Bears\’ record to 10-26-2.

The Ice Dogs, 24-14-2, now head out on a seven-game road trip that features two games at division-leading Wenatchee, two games at Wichita Falls and three games at Texas.

Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.