Ice Dogs win 30th straight

Danny Martin DMARTIN@NEWSMINER.COM
Feb 24, 2018

FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks Ice Dogs don’t experience many North American Hockey League games as they did Friday night in North Richland Hills, Texas.

The Ice Dogs, however, did experience another victory to add the league’s longest win and unbeaten streak.

Fairbanks prevailed 1-0 over the Lone Star Brahmas in a shootout that lasted 10 rounds at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Erkka Vanska and Robert Blueger converted their shootout chances for the Ice Dogs, which leads the Midwest Division at 37-5-3-2 for a league-high 79 points in the standings. The triumph in Friday’s series opener marked Fairbanks’ 22nd straight win and increased its unbeaten streak to 30 games (28-0-2-0).

“It was a really good game,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said from North Richland Hills, a Dallas suburb.

“It was tightly contested, and neither team got many good opportunities.

“Both goalies were phenomenal,” Stewart said. “It was a fun game to be a part of, and it was a good atmosphere.”

Goaltenders Josh Benson, of Fairbanks, and Mitchell Gibson, of Lone Star, were credited with shutouts. Benson registered 21 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, and Gibson got his seventh shutout of 2017-18 after denying

20 shots.

The game was scoreless for three regulation periods and a five-minute overtime.

Jakub Sirota, Lone Star’s third participant in the shootout, capitalized on his opportunity, and Vanska, Fairbanks’ fourth entry, evened the shootout tallies at 1.

Blueger delivered the game-winner as the Ice Dogs’ 10th shooter.

“I wish I had put him in the shootout earlier,” Stewart said.

“He made a nice move to go to his backhand. He made the goalie move from side to side, and he put it upstairs.”

Benson secured the win by stopping Chase Pletzke’s shootout attempt.

The game also featured mostly inactive doors on the penalty boxes.

Nolan Schaeffer was the only Ice Dog to visit the penalty box after he was assessed a checking-from-behind minor and a misconduct at 12:11 of the first period.

The Brahmas’ Trazzera received a checking-from-behind minor and a misconduct at 13:33 of the first and a holding penalty at 11:14 of the third.

The Ice Dogs had two power plays Friday while the Brahmas had only one session with an extra skater.

The Ice Dogs and Brahmas meet again at 4:30 p.m. today. The game can be seen at the Finish Line Restaurant in the LaQuinta Inn and Suites, 490 Dale Road, off Airport Way.

“We know we’re going to be battling. They’re a team that’s obviously pretty hungry,” Stewart said.

Lone Star holds second place in the South Division at 24-11-5-4 for 57 points.

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