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Ice Dogs edge Wildcats in Showcase opener

Bob Eley, For the News-Miner

FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks Ice Dogs registered their fourth straight victory to open the North American Hockey League season by the slimmest of margins on the opening day of the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota.

Cayden Cahill scored the game’s only goal as the Ice Dogs skated to a 1-0 victory against the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Wednesday morning in a rematch of last season’s Robertson Cup national championship game.

The Ice Dogs beat Wichita Falls 2-0 in the title contest last May in Edina, Minnesota.

Ice Dogs goaltender CJ Boothe improved 3-0-0 on the season, stopping all 27 shots Wednesday in recording his first shutout of the young season.

“We started out strong in front of him, but in the middle of the game we relied on him quite a bit,” Ice Dogs coach Trevor Stewart said via cellphone Wednesday evening from Minnesota.

Boothe, who was named Bauer’s/NAHL Midwest Division Player of the Week on Monday, has allowed two goals in three games between the pipes for the Ice Dogs this season.

“With a solid D in front of him, he just has to be who he is back there and he’s done a good job of that thus far,” Stewart said.

Cahill, a third-year right wing, scored the game’s only goal on a power play at 6:30 of the third period, with assists from Hunter Wendt and Dean Hewines.

“We got the puck to the net and Cahill was in the right spot,” Stewart said. “I don’t know how it happened, but the puck found it’s way into the net.”

The Ice Dogs went 1 for 9 on the power play, while the Wildcats were 0 for 5 with a man-advantage.

“I don’t think either team was super sharp today, but it still was a good hockey game,” Stewart said. “It was a little ragged because of all the penalties.”

The Ice Dogs had 33 shots on goal compared to 27 for the Wildcats.

Next up for the Ice Dogs in the Showcase is a game with the Austin (Minnesota) Bruins, who suffered a 5-4 loss to the Topeka RoadRunners in the final game of Wednesday’s Showcase schedule. The puck drops at 10:15 (ADT) this morning.

“They are a good team that will provide us with yet another challenge,” Stewart said of Ausrtin. “They have some forwards who can make big plays and they have a lot of veterans on their roster.”

The Ice Dogs opened the season by sweeping Topeka in a three-game series last week in Topeka, Kansas

In other Showcase games on Wednesday, the Minot (North Dakota) Minotauros blanked the Kenai River Brown Bears, 4-0; Minnesota Wilderness topped the New Jersey Titans, 2-1; Lone Star (Texas) Brahmas downed the Bismarck (North Dakota) Bobcats, 4-1; Amarillo (Texas) Bulls edged the Brookings (South Dakota) Bobcats, 2-1; Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Tomahawks outscored the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues, 6-3; Minnesota Magicians nipped the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Pennsylvania) Knights, 4-3; Aston (New Jersey) Rebels drilled the Janesville (Wisconsin) 4-0; the Aberdeen (South Dakota) Wings won in a shootout against the Corpus Christi (Texas) IceRays, 3-2; and the Coulee Region (Wisconsin) Chill upended the Odessa (Texas) Jackalopes, 4-3.

After today’s game with the Bruins, the Ice Dogs take on Odessa at 10:15 a.m. ADT Friday and Minot at 3:15 p.m. ADT Saturday to conclude their season-opening, seven-game road trip.

Fairbanks plays its first home series of the season against Johnstown on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. Each game starts at 7:30 p.m.

Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7586.