Interior trio boost Ice Dogs over Michigan

FAIRBANKS—The Interior delegation saved the Fairbanks Ice Dogs for the second day in a row at the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup Finals on Wednesday in Topeka, Kan.

Fairbanksans Tayler Munson and Alec Hajdukovich and North Pole’s Jared Linnell combined for three goals and four assists in the third period as the Ice Dogs rallied from a 2-0 deficit to claim a 4-2 victory against the Michigan Warriors on the second day of the five-day tournament that determines the USA Hockey Tier II Junior A national champion.

Munson scored two goals including the game-winner, Linnell had a goal and and assist and Hajdukovich had two assists as the Ice Dogs rallied to beat the NAHL Player of the Year — Michigan goaltender Robert Tadazak.

“They’ve been really good for us,” Ice Dogs head coach Josh Hauge said from Topeka. “They find ways to get the puck in the back of the net and make the skilled plays. I’ve been really pleased with their performance.”

Munson had a goal and an assist and Linnell and Hajdukovich each scored during regulation of Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime win against the host Topeka RoadRunners. Zach Vierling scored the game-winner with 54 seconds left in OT.

Wednesday’s win gives Fairbanks a 2-0 record in the round-robin portion of the tournament, which ends with today’s 1 p.m. ADT contest against the Amarillo Bulls of Texas. 

The Ice Dogs close out the round-robin portion of the tournament at 1 p.m. ADT today against the Amarillo Bulls of Texas. Amarillo also is 2-0 after rallying Wednesday night for a 4-3 victory over Topeka.

Amarillo’s Dan Sherer scored the game-winner at 5:41 of the third period, just 27 seconds after the second goal of the night from Topeka’s Jordan Davis tied the game during a power play.

Hauge was in the stands at the Kansas Expocentre for the evening contest.

“They’re a good club, they have a very good goalie and they play a defensive style,” Hauge said. “They finish a lot of hits, they play hard and they seemed to be well coached. They’re a good team and it’s going to be a good test for us.”

If the Ice Dogs win today’s game, they will advance to the championship game on Saturday. A loss would put the Ice Dogs in Friday’s semifinal game against the winner of tonight’s game between Topeka and Michigan.

“If we lose, we’re guaranteed to play in the semifinal and if we win, assure ourselves of playing for the national championship,” Hague said. “It’s a great spot to be in, and we haven’t even played our best yet, and that’s even more exciting.”

The Ice Dogs trailed 2-0 in the second period Wednesday despite a 31-18 advantage in shots. They ended the game with a 41-23 advantage.

“We just felt we were sluggish for the first 40 minutes,” Hague said.

The shutout in the first 40 minutes gave the Ice Dogs a wake-up call during the second intermission.

“I snapped a little bit but I think it was just was them realizing it was time to go,” Hauge said of the atmosphere in the lockerroom during the second intermission.

“We had our backs against the wall and we had to go,” Hauge said. “We have that kind of character and we played really well in the third.”

Ice Dogs goaltender Joe Phillippi registered 21 saves and Tadazak made 37.

Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.

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