SPRINGFIELD, IL- The Fairbanks Ice Dogs now stand alone as the hottest team in the North American Hockey League. Winners of 14 straight, the Ice Dogs now match the Lone Star Brahmas with the longest streak in the league this season. Lone Star’s streak came to an end with a 2-1 loss to Corpus Christi on Feb. 19.
The Ice Dogs, meanwhile swept their way across two states, defeating Chippewa in Wisconsin in a 3-2 shootout on Friday, and the Minnesota Magicians with a 4-3 OT win in Richfield on Saturday.
That makes 14 in a row folks.
Both games were nail biters to say the least. The Dogs never trailed on Friday, but found themselves in a shootout with the gritty Steel. Emil Gabrielson and Jack Johnston tallied markers in the shootout, while net minder Mattias Sholl turned away 5/6 shots to secure the victory.
Rookie Jack Caruso, a mid-season signing, got the start in net on Saturday. He found himself down 2-0 just 8 minutes into the tilt. It looked as though we were headed to another shootout when Lucas Erickson found a streaking Oliver Kjaer with 8 second on the clock of a 3-on-3 overtime period. Kjaer then fed the puck to Parker Brown on the odd-man, and “Downtown” delivered, sinking the dagger with 3.2 seconds remaining in OT.
Fairbanks product Tyler Deweese put together an outstanding weekend, scoring pivotal goals in each of the games, including the equalizer against Minnesota 12 minutes into the third period. Deweese was rewarded with the NAHL Bauer Midwest Top Star of the Week award.
“Tyler has really stepped up his game and showed some incredible leadership this season,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said in a league release. “He came up with some big goals this weekend and we will need him to keep producing as we prepare for the playoffs.”
Deweese joined Stewart and eight other Ice Dogs Monday and Tuesday at the NAHL Showcase tournament in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Bret Link tickled the twin for Selects Red, and Gabrielson tabbed a goal for Team South. Johnston buried a pair of markers for Team Midwest, while Kjaer added two assists. Sholl made 32 saves in 51 minutes of action for Team Midwest at Top Prospects.
“Each of our guys represented themselves very well, both on and off the Ice, ” said Ice Dogs general manager Rob Proffitt.
The nine players and coach rejoined their team in Minneapolis and will trek to Illinois to face the Springfield Jr. Blues in a 3-game series that begins Friday. The Jr. Blues sit in the Midwest Division cellar, but are by no means out of playoff contention with 13 games left on their schedule.
The Dogs have separated themselves from the rest of pack, riding a 17-game point streak and remaining unblemished in 2020. With 73 points on the season, the Dogs are 17 up on the Kenai River Brown Bears, and 18 points up on the Steel. The Janesville Jets are just two points up on the Magicians in the battle for the final Midwest playoff spot, so there is sure to be plenty of fireworks within the division over the home stretch of the season.
The Ice Dogs return to Alaska for the remainder of the regular season following this weekend’s series in Springfield. They return to action March 6, hosting the NE Generals over the final weekend of Hockey Week in Fairbanks, followed by military appreciation weekend against Amarillo March 13-14.