Ice Dogs prevail at Minot

  • By Danny Martin DMARTIN@NEWSMINER.COM
  • Feb 4, 2018

FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks Ice Dogs recorded a front-loaded victory in Saturday night’s North American Hockey League game in the Mayse Arena in Minot, North Dakota.

The Ice Dogs extended the league’s longest unbeaten and winning

streaks of the season by scoring all of their goals in the first period in a 6-5 series-sweeping win over the Minot Minotaurous.

 Fairbanks head coach Trevor Stewart said the Ice Dogs played with a little more energy than in Friday night’s 2-1 win over the hosts from the Central Division.

“Kyle Mayhew took a hit and they got a five-minute major,’’ Stewart said of a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct for Minot’s Rykr Cole at 1:32 into the game.

“I think the guys were pretty motivated going on the power play, They scored two goals from the major,’’ he added. “We were playing pretty well after that. We gave up a couple of chances that went into the back of the net, but the guys were working pretty hard doing things the right way and finding ways to score.”

Jax Murray produced the game-winning goal and had an assist in the first period, and Ice Dogs goaltender Logan Neaton stopped 32 shots to raise Fairbanks’ Midwest Division- and league-leading record to 32-5-3-2 for 69 points in the standings. Saturday’s victory was the 17th in a row and it stretched Fairbanks’ unbeaten streak to 25 games (23-0-2-0).

“I think it’s we’re finding different ways to win every single night,’’ Stewart said of the streak that continued during a two-week road trip which included four games decided by one goal.

Fairbanks started with a 2-1 shootout win over the Janesville Jets in a Midwest contest in Janesville, Wisconsin on Jan. 26 . The  won by the same score over the Coulee Region Chill in regulation of a division game the next night in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

Saturday night’s first-period blitz for the Ice Dogs began at 2:35 with Hunter Wendt’s power-play goal set up by Samuel Ruffin and Murray. Tanner Schachle tacked on a power-play goal at 6:10 with help from Erkka Vanska and Robert Blueger.

Caleb Hite made it 3-0 for the visitors at 6:59 off helpers from Wendt and John Stampohar.

Alex Adams’ power-play goal at 10:12 interrupted the Ice Dogs’ flow before Jake Borgida found the back of the net at 13:25 with Blueger’s and Vanska’s assistance.

Austin Koss cut Fairbanks’ lead to 4-2 at 15:22 of the first. The Ice Dogs regained their momentum with Blueger scoring at 16:22 and Murray delivering the game-winner at 18:17. Blueger was assisted by linemates Schachle and Vanska, and Murray got help from Johnston and team captain Luke Orysiuk.

Minot got second-period goals from Jake Rosenbaum and Colby Enns, while Nolan Sawchuk squeezed in a power-play goal with five seconds left in the third period.

 Ice Dogs goaltender Logan Neaton made 32 saves Saturday after Josh Benson, the Bauer/NAHL Goaltender of the Month for January, backstopped Friday’s one-goal outcome.

“I think we’ve had him (Neaton) in some adverse situations and he would be the first to admit that he didn’t have his best game,’’ Stewart said, “but he finds a way to win a hockey game. That’s all we ask of a goaltender.”

Jack Robbel had eight saves for Minot (18-16-4-2 for 42 points) before he was replaced by Samu Lonkila, who finished with 18.

The Ice Dogs play host to the East Division’s Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Tomahawks at 7:30 p.m Friday and Saturday at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.

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