FAIRBANKS—The Fairbanks Ice Dogs made the most of their opportunities Saturday night to claim a 5-3 North American Hockey League victory against the Texas Tornado.
Led by two goals from JT Osborn, the Ice Dogs scored on five of their 21 shots on goal to claim their fourth victory in six games on their season-opening 10-game road trip. The other two games resulted in shootout losses.
“It’s nice to be on the winning end of a game like that,” Ice Dogs coach Josh Hauge said. “It was a real nail-biter.”
The Ice Dogs came out strong and took a 4-0 just three minutes into the second period, but Texas stormed back to make it 4-3 going into the third.
Osborn’s second goal of the game off an assist from Mike Parnell at 11:41 of the third and sealed the win for Fairbanks.
“He’s impressive to watch; the Fairbanks fans are really going to enjoy how this guy plays,” Hauge said of Osborn. “He’s not the biggest guy on the team or the best skater, but he’s a pure goal scorer. He’s always in the right place at the right time and he’s carrying a hot stick for us right now.”
After Texas closed the gap to 4-3, Fairbanks’ Joe Blake had an altercation with Texas’ Rodney LeBlonde late in the second period. Hauge said it was a pivotal part of the game.
“I’m not a big proponent of fighting, but this was one of those times when it worked in our favor,” he said. “We were down a little bit on the bench and it really picked our guys back up and we were able to finish it out and get the win.”
There were only nine penalties in the game, one more than the number of goals scored.
John Stampoher, Jared Linnell and Charlie Thauwald also scored goals for the winners.
Linnell’s shorthanded goal came at 13:51 of the first period and gave the Ice Dogs a 3-0 lead.
“It was a great play and effort on Jared’s part,” Hauge said. “It was a great backhand shot, high on the glove side.”
Linnell, playing in his first full season with the Ice Dogs, already has made a verbal commitment to play for the Alaska Nanooks.
“Everyone is going to enjoy watching him play junior hockey with the Ice Dogs and in college with the Nanooks,” Hauge said. “He’s a special talent.”
Linnell, Osborn, Tyler Voigt, Zach Vierling and Tayler Munson registered assists Saturday night.
Goalie Steve Perry registered his third win in as many starts as he stopped 33 shots.
“He was great in the pipes for us,” Hauge said. “For a rookie to be 3-0 in this league is a good sign.”
The Ice Dogs have four games, including a game against Texas tonight, remaining on their season-opening road trip. Following tonight’s game, Fairbanks travels to Wenatchee, Wash., for a three-game series Oct. 1-3.
The Ice Dogs’ first home game is against the Fresno Monsters at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
Contact sports editor Bob Eley at 459-7581.