FAIRBANKS – The Fairbanks Ice Dogs got on a roll Thursday night and buried the Alaska Avalanche.
Zach Tolkinen and Jared Larson each registered two goals and an assist as the Ice Dogs pinned a five-spot on the board in the second period en route to a 6-2 North American Hockey League victory against their intrastate rivals from Wasilla.
Tied 1-1 after the first 20 minutes, the Ice Dogs came out and scored three goals in the first 4 minutes and 50 seconds of the second period to take control of a game that had been very physical in the first period.
\”We do have that kind of firepower,\” Ice Dogs coach Josh Hauge said. \”We can be hard to stop when we get all four lines like we did tonight. It was nice to see.\”
Tolkinen started the second-period rampage with 4-on-4 goal 51 seconds in to the middle stanza. His shot came from just below the left faceoff circle and seemed to startle Avalanche goalie Kale Robertson.
\”When you come out and play hard, good things happen,\” Tolkinen said.
Larson made it 3-1 at the 3:06 mark on a tic-tac-toe passing play with linemates Jon Feavel and Mark Pustin.
Tolkinen struck again at 4:50 when he drilled the puck between Robertson\’s legs after taking a nifty feed from Jon Waggoner.
\”I got a couple of good feeds tonight,\” Tolkinen said. \”It\’s pretty easy (to score goals), when Wags does the hard work and gives you a great feed.\”
Larson\’s second goal came on a breakaway at 8:33. Joe Krause capped the explosion with the Ice Dogs\’ second power-play goal of the night at 12:58, atoning for a first-period mistake that enabled Alaska to take a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Kyle Pichler.
\”I didn\’t expect that guy to what he did,\” Krause said of getting burned defensively. \”I was determined not to let it happen again.\”
The victory pulled the Ice Dogs (17-11-1) to within two points of the Avalanche (16-6-5) in the NAHL West division standings heading into tonight\’s 7:30 p.m. rematch at the Big Dipper. The two teams also play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Ice Dogs lost three of four games against the Avalanche in Wasilla, so Thursday night\’s win was important for several reasons.
\”We can enjoy this for about 30 minutes and then the slate is clean,\” Tolkinen said. \”It\’s a quick turnaround and we\’ve got to be ready to play hard again tomorrow night.\”
The Ice Dogs have won seven straight games since suffering a loss to the Texas Tornado on Nov. 13.
\”I don\’t really want to say we\’re a whole new team, but we\’ve been on a roll lately and we\’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,\” Tolkinen said. \”As much as you shouldn\’t say it, playing in your home rink with the fans that we have, it really gets you going.\”
Hauge had a different explanation.
\”We played much better defensively,\” he said. \”Tonight, I think we only allowed 23 or 24 shots on net, compared to 35 or 40 when we played down there.\”
Ice Dogs goalie Mike Taffe improved to 12-1 on the season with a 22-save performance. Robertson made 16 saves in the first two periods for the Avalanche. Landon Peterson stopped all eight shots he faced in the third period.
Trailing 1-0 in the first period, the Ice Dogs got on the board with a power-play goal from Michael Juola, the league\’s leading scorer.
The final Avalanche goal was scored by Jake Williams at 3:26 of the third period.
Mark Pustin registered three assists for the Ice Dogs, while Feavel and James Saintey had two apiece. Waggoner, Aaron McGill and newcomer Justin Kirchhevel had one each.