The 500-mile journey home from Soldotna is going to be a long one for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
Fairbanks entered this weekend’s series against the Kenai River Brown Bears in search of its first victory since sweeping the Brown Bears when the two North American Hockey League Midwest Division rivals met in October.
The Brown Bears, however, had different plans.
Kenai River returned the favor by sweeping the Ice Dogs in the latest installment of this year’s Ravn Alaska Cup series, as they upended Fairbanks 6-2 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Sunday night.
The Brown Bears skated to 5-2 and 6-3 victories over the Ice Dogs on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Sunday’s loss extended Fairbanks’ winless streak to 11 games, as they haven’t earned a win since beating Kenai River 4-1 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena on Oct. 22.
The Ice Dogs dropped to 7-14-2-1 overall, while the Brown Bears improved their overall record to 4-17-2-0 after entering the weekend series with a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Magicians as the only win on their resume.
Ryan Kero and Hunter Wendt were the only two Fairbanks players to beat Kenai River goaltender Robbie Goor (37 saves), as they each netted power-play goals in the loss.
Luke Orysiuk and Samuel Ruffin assisted on Kero’s score which, at the time, cut the Ice Dogs’ deficit to 2-1 midway through the second period.
After the Brown Bears countered with three unaswered goals at the start of the third period, Wendt buried his seventh goal of the season. Colton Fletcher and Aaron McPheters tallied helpers on Wendt’s score.
Luke Radetic followed up Saturday’s hat trick with two goals for Kenai River. David Kaplan, Christopher Lipe, Anthony Tzveyn and Lucas Carroll each lit the lamp for the Brown Bears.
Fairbanks held a 39-21 advantage in shots on goal, though, Kenai River made the most of its opportunities and managed to score in bunches against Ice Dogs goaltender CJ Boothe, who made 15 saves in defeat.
Up next for Fairbanks is a pair of exhibition games against the USA U-18 Development Team at the Big Dipper this weekend. The Ice Dogs and Team USA will meet on both Friday and Saturday, with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m. both games.