Fairbanks—It wasn’t the perfect performance, but the result came out the right way for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs Thursday evening at the North American Hockey League Showcase.
The Ice Dogs (1-0-1) gave up an early goal, but stormed back to claim a 5-3 triumph against the New Mexico Mustangs (0-2-0) in one of the feature games in Blaine, Minn.
“I still thought we were pretty sloppy,” Ice Dogs coach Josh Hauge said shortly after his team got off the ice. “When you have high expectations for a team, you expect them to execute better than we have so far this year, but a win is a win, and we’re going to take it.”
Five different players scored goals for the Ice Dogs. JT Osborn and North Pole’s Jared Linnell each had a goal and an assist.
“We have some depth up front again this year,” Hauge said. “If we can get all of our lines to produce all season long, then when someone goes in a slump we can still win some hockey games.”
Hauge said he was pleased with the way he Linnell stepped up his game Thursday night.
“I thought he played much better in his second game,” Hauge said. “He’s had enough experience to know what to expect.”
Rookie goalie Steve Perry of Pittsburgh stopped 24 shots to preserve the victory.
“He played great for his first games as a junior goalie,” Hauge said. “He gave up that first goal, but then he responded really well and played a great game.”
After New Mexico’s Patrick Anderson scored the first goal of the game, just a minute, 24 seconds into the game, the Ice Dogs took command by scoring three goals before the first 20-minute session came to an end.
John Stampohar’s unassisted goal at 9:54 tied the game and Sean O’Rourke’s power-play tally at 12:37 put Fairbanks in the lead for good. Fairbanks’ Alec Hajdukovich set up O’Rourke’s score.
Linnell’s first goal of the season at 17:36 was assisted by Zach Vierling and Gave Levin.
Alexander Jensen notched what proved to be the game-winning goal came at 6:09 of the second period off assists from Osborn and Charlie Thauwald.
New Mexico cut the deficit to 4-2 early in the third, but Fairbanks responded with a goal by Osborn at 8:18. Linnell assisted on the play.
The Ice Dogs finished with 32 shots on goal. Each team had one power-play goal.
The Ice Dogs take on Aberdeen, Minn., at 11:30 a.m. ADT and wrap up the Showcase as 12:45 p.m. Saturday against Chicago.
“We’ve got a quick turnaround, so we’ve got to get some rest and get ready for tomorrow,” Hauge said.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.