Ice Dogs are playoff bound

SOLDOTNA, ALASKA-  For the 25th time in 25 seasons, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs have qualified for post-season play. The first members of the NAHL Midwest Division to earn a berth in the  the 2022 Robertson Cup playoffs, the Dogs earned the spot when the Janesville Jets fell 4-1 to St. Cloud on Sunday.

“The top goal of this organization will always be to help kids earn the chance at a college education,” said Ice Dogs General Manager Rob Proffitt. “But the goal for every season is for the team to punch its ticket to the post season. We accomplished that, now the next goal is securing home ice in the first round of the playoffs.”

The Ice Dogs entered their final series of the season against the Kenai River Brown Bears tied for the NAHL Midwest Division lead and looking up at the Anchorage Wolverines in the Alaska Airlines Club 49 Cup standings.  They came out of it on top in both races after sweeping the Brown Bears with wins of 4-2 on Friday and 6-3 on Saturday.

Goals from Jake Hale and Tristan Sarsland had the Dogs tied 2-2 entering the third period of Friday’s game. A Jack Ring pass was deflected right to the tape of Jacob Conrad who beat Bryant Marks blocker side to put the Dogs up 3-2 at 3:31 of the final period. Alexander Malinowski added the insurance goal exactly 15 minutes later at 18:31 of the third to close out scoring in a 4-2 Ice Dogs win. Kayden Hargraves was under siege most of the night, turning away 35 of the 37 Brown Bear shots he faced to earn a big win in net.

A Braden Lindstrom snipe on the rush beat Cole Schmidt glove side to tie Saturday’s game 1-1 midway through the first period. Carson Triggs’ second goal of the game put the Brown Bears up 2-1 just 24 seconds into the second stanza.. A Brown Bear turnover in the neutral zone led to an Ice Dog odd man rush with the puck on the stick of Tyler Stewart, who delivered a perfect pass to set up Hale for his second marker of the series, tying the game 2-2. Former Ice Dog Nick Ostbloom scored 38 seconds later to once again give the Brown Bears a 1-goal lead at 3-2. It would be the final Brown Bear goal of the game.

McCabe Dvorak worked his way out of the left-wing corner and moved to the high slot where he ripped a shot low off the pads of Schmidt. Maksis Brimanis deposited the rebound to tie the game 3-3 at 6:08 of the second period. Later in the frame, with the Dogs on the power play, Malinowski sent a back-handed pass that Sarsland one-timed clean into the back of the net to put the Dogs up 4-3 with under 5 minutes to play in the second period. Kevin Marx Noren added the insurance in the third, and Ring closed out the scoring with an empty net goal leading to a 6-3 Ice Dogs victory. Hargraves earned his second win of the weekend, making 24 saves in net.

With the sweep, the Dogs regained control of the Club 49 Cup with 31 points. The Ice Dogs host the Anchorage Wolverines this weekend, with a chance to clinch the cup outright with a win on Friday night. It marks the Dogs’ final series of the regular season, along with parent’s weekend. Parents and billet families will be honored at Friday’s game. Ice Dogs General Manager Rob Proffitt will also auction off the commemorative Ice Dogs 25th Anniversary jerseys that the players have worn for home games of Club 49 Cup play this season. The weekend cumulates with the annual spaghetti feed on Sunday, where $14,500 in cash prizes will be awarded to those lucky enough to have their ticket drawn at the opportune time.

PURCHASE TICKETS FOR FINAL REG-SEASON HOME SERIES HERE

The NAHL Midwest Division race will likely be decided during the final week of the season, with the Ice Dogs idle. As it stands now, the Dogs hold a 4-point lead (75 points through 58 games) over Springfield (71 points through 56 games). The Minnesota Wilderness are 3 points back of Springfield with 68 points, while the Wolverines currently hold the fourth and final playoff spot with 66 points. Janesville is just a point out of playoff contention, while the Minnesota Magicians are on the brink of elimination. Chippewa and Kenai River are out of the post-season race.

DOG BITES

  • ALEXANDER MALINOWSKI LEADS THE NAHL WITH A 33-41-74 SCORING LINE

  • MALINOWSKI RANKS 4TH (T) IN NAHL IN GOALS; 5TH (T) IN ASSISTS

  • KEVIN MARX-NOREN RANKS 1ST (T) IN NAHL WITH AN 12-15-27 PP SCORING LINE

  • TYLER STEWART RANKS 5TH (T) IN NAHL WITH 6 GWG

  • ICE DOGS LEAD NAHL WITH 236 GOALS (4.07 PER GAME)

  • ICE DOGS POWER PLAY RANKS 5TH (25.2%) IN NAHL

  • ICE DOGS PENALTY KILL RANKS 4TH (T) (85.4%) IN NAHL