FAIRBANKS—The one-timers came at a good time for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
The Ice Dogs generated three goals on one-timer shots, helping pave the way to a 5-2 victory over the Keystone Ice Miners in Saturday night’s finale of a nondivisional North American Hockey League series in the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
“It’s a game of seconds in hockey,” said Ice Dogs left wing Ethan Somoza, who had a goal and two assists. “When the puck’s coming, you’ve got to get it off your stick quick. If you don’t get it off quick, the goalie can come over and stop it.
“Those one-timers are the reason we won the game. We were moving quick, we got quick shot to the net and we scored,” added Somoza, whose 57 points from 24 goals and 33 assists in 50 games this season ties him with teammate Jacob Hetz for third in scoring in the Tier II Junior A league.
The Ice Dogs, in second place in the Midwest Division, lost by the same score Friday night to the Ice Miners, from Connellsville, Pennsylvania, and tied for second place in the North Division.
“We just had a better overall effort from our team. We didn’t give them as many opportunities and we capitalized on our opportunities,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said of a comparison between Saturday’s win and Friday’s defeat.
One of Somoza’s assists Saturday occurred during Hans Gorowsky’s perfect example of hockey being a game of seconds.
The Ice Dogs center produced bookend goals — first and last — in the second period. The last one was a one-timer from the left circle that deflected in off Keystone goaltender Nick Kossoff’s glove-side shoulder with 1 second left in the period.
“I knew there was less than five seconds left,’’ Gorowsky said, “and I was calling for it coming across the blue line, thinking let’s play a little pinball there. It popped out, I took a crack at it, and it hit him in the shoulder and went in.”
Yannick Vedel and Adam Anderson also scored and goaltender Kevin Aldridge recorded 30 saves for the Ice Dogs, 33-14-3. The Ice Dogs have 69 points in the Midwest standings, one back of the division-leading Minnesota Wilderness, who slipped to 32-10-6 following Saturday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Austin Bruins in Cloquet, Minnesota.
Matt Jones and Kelly O’Brien had the goals and Kossoff made 39 saves for Keystone, which is 24-19-5 for 53 points, the same amount of points for the Soo (Michigan) Eagles, who are 26-21-1 in the North.
The Ice Dogs and Ice Miners played to a scoreless tie in the first period for the second straight night.
Gorowsky broke the deadlock at 1:25 of the second, one-timing in Somoza’s feed. Johnny Mueller also assisted.
Jones made it 1-1 at 14:16, redirecting in Alex Archibald’s rip from between the blue line and left circle. Michael Maiden got his second assist of the series on the play.
Vedel burst through the slot and one-timed in Ryner Gorowsky’s assist at 16:14. Adam Wilcox, on the way to a two-assist night, had the second helper on the tie-breaking marker.
After Hans Gorowsky’s last second-goal had put Fairbanks up 3-1, O’Brien cut the lead to 3-2 at 5:44 of the third. O’Brien got his stick on Reed Scahill’s blast from the near the left point and the puck rang in off the crossbar and dropped behind Aldridge.
Somoza stretched the lead to 4-2 with an unassisted goal at 7:19 of the third. Anderson, with help from Wilcox and Lonnie Clary’s second point of the weekend, sealed the series split with his contribution at 14:13 of the final period.
The teams finished the season series at 2-2-0.
They also split in in the Ice Mine in Connellsville on Jan. 2-3.
Keystone won 2-0 in the opener and Fairbanks took the second game with a 3-2 victory.
Stewart will be an assistant coach and six Ice Dogs will be playing for the Midwest Division in the NAHL Prospects Showcase in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Monday and Tuesday.
The players are Chandler Madry, Somoza, Vedel, Clary, Hans Gorowsky and Mueller.
The showcase allows players to be seen by college and professional scouts.
• Madry is the NAHL’s second-leading scorer with 18-46-64 totals in 50 games.
• The Ice Dogs face another Pennsylvania team, the Johnstown Tomahawks, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Dipper.
The Tomahawks are the former Alaska Avalanche of Palmer.
The series also marks the end of the Ice Dogs’ 17-game, eight-week state stand, which involves games either at the Dipper or in the Soldotna Sports Center, the home of the Kenai River Brown Bears.
The Ice Dogs are 12-2-1 during the state stand.
Contact sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: