FAIRBANKS — Another tough North American Hockey League game for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in North Richland Hills, Texas. Another successful one, too.
The Ice Dogs won for the 23rd straight time and raised its unbeaten streak to 31 games (29-0-2-0) after prevailing 3-2 over the Lone Star Brahmas on Saturday night in the finale of the nondivisional series in the NYTEX Sports Centre.
The Ice Dogs, who lead the Midwest Division at 38-5-3-2 for a league-high 81 points in the standings, were coming off Friday’s 1-0 shootout victory. The shootout required 10 rounds.
“I’m just proud of our guys,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said in a text to the News-Miner.
“They found a way to grind it out and battled through some adversity the past two nights,” he said. “They’re just doing what they need to do to win hockey games, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Caleb Hite put the Ice Dogs ahead 3-0 at 7:25 of the second period. Daniel Haider and Hunter Wendt assisted on the eventual game-winner.
Haider, with help from Jax Murray and Samuel Ruffin, scored the game’s first goal during a power play at 3:43 of the first period. Noah Wilson gave Fairbanks a 2-0 edge at 6:06 of the second, courtesy of assists from Nolan Schaeffer and Murray.
Goaltender Logan Neaton stopped 20 shots for the Ice Dogs.
Both goals for the Brahmas came during the last nine minutes of the second period.
Kyle Hallbauer capitalized on power-play help from Ture Linden and Jakub Sirota to make it 3-1 at 11:44. Linden scored a short-handed goal at 14:34, aided by Drew Lennon.
Mitchell Gibson recorded eight saves, and Harrison Fenney had 12 for Lone Star, which remained in second place in the South Division at 24-12-5-4 for 57 points.
The Ice Dogs wrap up the road trip with a visit to the South-leading Shreveport Mudbugs on Friday and Saturday in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Mudbugs have the second-highest point total in the NAHL, 75, from their 35-7-3-2 record.
“It’s going to be a big weekend,” Stewart said. “Obviously, it’s the top two teams as far as the NAHL standings go and a lot of the statistical categories go.
“We’re excited and we’re expecting a challenge,” he said.
The games at George’s Pond in the Hirsch Coliseum start at 4:11 p.m. AKST each day. The games can be seen at the Finish Line Restaurant in the LaQuinta Inn and Suites, 490 Dale Road, off Airport Way.
Before the Shreveport series, Stewart will coach the Midwest Division team in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.
Goaltender Josh Benson, defenseman Kyle Mayhew and forwards Hite, Connor Chilton and Erkka Vanska will skate for the Midwest Division team. Ice Dogs forward Samuel Ruffin will play for the NAHL Selects Red Team during the tournament.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.