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Ice Dogs bite back

FAIRBANKS—The Fairbanks Ice Dogs were focusing on playing as a team in Friday’s North American Hockey League game against the Alaska Avalanche. After losing the opening game of the series on Thursday, coach Josh Hauge said his team needed to play more unified if they wanted the win on Friday.

With five players scoring five goals for the Ice Dogs, who picked up a 5-1 win Friday, teamwork didn’t seem to be an issue.

“I’m obviously more pleased with today than yesterday,” Hauge said, comparing Friday’s game to Thursday’s 6-4 loss. “It was a good game. Had they (Alaska) capitalized earlier, it could have been closer.”

After the first period, the game was knotted at one. Charlie Thauwald scored on the power play, on passes from Tayler Munson and Gabe Levin, at the 15:40 mark, and Matt Friese put the Avalanche on the board at the 19:22 mark, with Blake Huppert and Jake Williams picking up the assists.

The Ice Dogs (40-14-3) held the Avalanche scoreless in the second period and picked up two goals themselves. Colton Wolter and Tayler Munson, both coming from Lathrop High School, scored at the 0:58 and 5:31 marks, respectively. Linnell assisted both goals, and Sean O’Rourke assisted Wolter, while Brock Carlston recorded the assist on Munson’s score.

Linnell and Carlston switched roles and scored the Ice Dogs’ two goals in the third period. Levin and John Stampohar assisted Linnell’s power play goal at the 3:53 mark, and Jack Callahan and Zach Vierling picked up the assists on Carlston’s 13:50 score.

“Obviously, we did good things to get five,” Hauge said. “I thought we were getting pucks and bodies to the net.”

Steve Perry faced 31 shots between the pipes for the Ice Dogs, recording 30 saves.

“I thought the one Steve gave up was terrible,” Hauge said, “but he did a good job. He bailed us out when we needed it.”

“The team played well. They made my job easy in the third,” Perry said. “It’s easy to play like that when the team plays well in front of you.”

The game, the second of the three-day series, was physical and intense from the beginning. Four fighting major penalties were handed out throughout the contest.

“We were definitely more physical tonight,” Hauge said. “I think we can be even more physical, though. It was five or six guys who were, not the whole team, but any time you play three games, things are bound to get heated. I expect more of the same tomorrow.”

The Ice Dogs and Avalanche (31-22-4) finish the three-day, three-game series tonight at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. Face off is set for 7:30 p.m.

“It was an energetic vibe for sure,” Perry added about Friday’s game. “You could feel it in the building. I think it says a lot about our team with the way they played, being able to surmount the obstacle that came with a vibe like that.”

Alaska goalie Nick Kulmanovsky, who’s from Fairbanks, made 32 saves on the 37 shots he faced from the Ice Dogs. Hauge and Perry both anticipate tonight’s game to be much like Friday’s — intense and serious.

“It’s our last game before playoffs,” Hauge said. “We’ll tighten things up and work on everything.”

“I expect the same kind of game,” Perry added. “Alaska always comes hard. If we just play our game, we’ll be all right.”

Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – Ice Dogs bite back