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Ice Dogs blanked by Tomahawks, swept in two-game series

FAIRBANKS — Unlike Friday, when the Fairbanks Ice Dogs were creamed by North American Hockey League East Division foe Johnstown, the team brought a much better effort Saturday.

However, just like Friday, the Ice Dogs found themselves falling to the Tomahawks. 

After suffering a 5-1 loss Friday, Fairbanks dropped the two-game series finale, 3-0, at Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on Saturday.

The Ice Dogs had plenty of scoring chances, though. Johnstown goaltender Drew Hotte stopped each of the 32 shots he faced to secure the shutout.

“They were good scoring chances. We played much better than we did last night,” Fairbanks head coach Trevor Stewart said in a phone interview. “Unfortunately if you can’t score, you can’t win any games.”

The Tomahawks started fast, as Samuel Solensky beat Ice Dogs goalie Josh Benson 2:38 into the game. Roman Kraemer and Brandon Young both tallied assists on Solensky’s eighth goal of the season.

Donovan Ott bested Benson (17 saves) 16:52 into the third period before making it a 3-0 game with an unassisted, empty-net goal less than two minutes later. 

Nick Bruce registered a helper on Ott’s first goal of the night.

“Their best players made some big plays and our best guys didn’t,” Stewart said. 

With the loss, Fairbanks drops to 11-17-2-1 on the season. The NAHL’s defending Robertson Cup Champions are in fifth place in the Midwest Division with 25 points.

Johnstown improved to 21-7-1-1. It holds third place in the East with 44 points.

The Ice Dogs will remain in Philadelphia for the next two weekends. They will stay in Jownstown until Wednesday, when they’ll take a bus to Philadelphia. 

Fairbanks visits the Aston Rebels on Jan. 6-7 before facing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Jan. 14-15.

“We’re going to have to work hard and get ready for an Aston team that’s traditionally one of the best in the league,” Stewart said.

The team finally  will return home to host the Northeast Generals on Jan. 19-21 after the two-game series with the Knights. 

The opening game of the three-game series against the Generals begins at 7 p.m. at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, with the final two games each slated for a 7:30 p.m. start.

Contact News-Miner sports writer Brad Joyal at 459-7530. Follow him on Twitter:  @bradjoyal.