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Phillippi stops 32 shots as Ice Dogs turn back Monsters

FAIRBANKS—“Our goalie is the reason we won,” Fairbanks Ice Dogs head coach Josh Hauge said. “He was outstanding.”

Joe Phillippi allowed just one goal in Tuesday’s North American Hockey League game against the Fresno Monsters as the Ice Dogs went on to win 4-1, inching even closer to clinching the West Division title.

“It was our defense, our forwards. They were making blocks and allowing me to see the puck,” Phillippi, who finished with 32 saves, said. “I’ve got to give them the credit.”

The Monsters’ Derek Sutliffe scored on assists from Steven Obarzanek and Lucas Whelen at the 17:19 mark of the first period, taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

“I thought our first period was sloppy,” Hauge said. “They took it to us.”

In the second period, it was the Ice Dogs who were taking it to the Monsters.

After John Stampohar and Fresno’s Tom Hilbrich received major penalties for fighting almost four minutes into the middle period, momentum and intensity seemed to switch sides.

“Stampohar’s fight triggered it all,” Phillippi said. “It fired us up. The crowd too. It was just good timing.”

About five minutes later, Matt Millis assisted a puck to JT Osborn who converted, knotting the score at1. But not for long.

The Ice Dogs scored three more goals in a matter of just more than three minutes.

“We got one and just started rolling,” Hauge said. “We have the ability to explode, and we just took advantage.”

Tyler Voigt scored at the 10:21 mark on passes from Zach Vierling and Charlie Thauwald. Stampohar, after serving his penalty, scored at 11:14. Millis and Gabe Levin picked up the assists. Brock Carlston passed a puck to Levin at the 11:51 mark to put up what would be the final score of the game.

“We just regrouped at the intermission and played our game,” Phillippi said of the difference between the first two periods. “In the first, we let them play with us, and in the second, we wanted them to have to match us.”

Fresno’s Luis Puig faced 27 shots while in goal for the Monsters, and finished with 23 saves. Tom Conlin saw four shots and made as many saves.

Phillippi, while giving credit to his team’s skating, also credited the 1,711 fans that filled the Big Dipper Ice Arena.

“It’s a Tuesday night. We didn’t expect a lot of fans,” he said, “but they proved again that we’ve got the best fans in the NAHL.”

The two teams face off again tonight at 7, and if the Ice Dogs (36-12-2) come away with the win, they’ll secure the top of the West Division.

“We want to clinch it at home,” Phillippi said. “In front of all our fans. That would be a lot of fun.”

Contact staff writer Renee Thony at 459-7583.

Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – Phillippi stops 32 shots as Ice Dogs turn back Monsters