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Ice Dogs blank Bismarck Bobcats in NAHL opener

Danny Martin Dmartin@newsminer.com

Fairbanks Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart wasn’t happy with the penalties his team received Friday night at the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck, North Dakota.

He was happy with the Ice Dogs’ 2-0 victory over the Bismarck Bobcats in the opener of the nondivisional North American Hockey League series.

Kevin Aldridge recorded his second shutout of the season and fifth of his Ice Dogs career by turning away 27 shots to help the Ice Dogs take over sole possession of first place in the Midwest Division.

“Kevin was really good,’’ Stewart said by cellphone.

Aldridge made 21 saves on Jan. 10  in a 5-0 victory over the Kenai River Brown Bears at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. 

Fairbanks improves to 36-15-4 for 76 points, two points ahead of the Minnesota Wilderness. The Wilderness slipped to 34-12-6 after falling 4-1 Friday night to the Austin Bruins in Austin, Minnesota.

The Wilderness, though, have eight games remaining in the regular season, while the the Ice Dogs have five games left in the regular season, including the 4:15 p.m. AST rematch today against the Bobcats. 

“We’re just going to focus on (today) and limiting our mistakes,’’ Stewart said. “We just have to play better as a team and we can’t worry about other teams.”

Defenseman Robin Karlsson and wing Todd Burgess provided power-play goals Friday night for the Ice Dogs. 

Karlsson scored with center Hans Gorowsky’s assist at 13:18 of the first period.

“Robin was at the left point and he found a way to get the puck through to the net,’’ Stewart said. “It was a very timely goal for us at that point in the game.”

Burgess, with help from Madry, scored at 4:02 into the third period. It was the 48th assist and 68th point this season for Madry, the Tier II Junior A league’s second-leading scorer.

The Ice Dogs finished 2 for 8 on the power play and denied the Bobcats’ eight opportunities.

The teams combined 18 penalties for 49 minutes. The Ice Dogs spent 18 minutes in the penalty box after compiling nine penalties and the Bobcats had nine penalties for 31 minutes.

Alex Bitsakis recorded 18 saves for Bismarck, which is in third place in the Central Division at 28-23-3.

Contact sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586.  Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.