FAIRBANKS- A match-up of the top two teams in the NAHL Midwest Division Friday and Saturday night, as the Ice Dogs host the Springfield Jr. Blues in a 2-game series at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. The Dogs are coming off a home split with the Chippewa Steel, a 5-2 win on Friday and a 2-1 loss on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Jr. Blues lost two of three games against the Anchorage Wolverines over the weekend..
With the Ice Dogs up 2-0 over the Steel on Friday, former Ice Dog forward Ethan Benz struck to cut the lead in half. Local product Billy Renfrew marked his seventh goal of the season just 14 seconds later, extending the Dogs’ lead back to two goals. Just over a minute later, Nolan Cunningham buried to make it a 4-1 Ice Dogs lead en-route to a the 5-2 win. Kayden Hargraves made a mere 16 saves in the win, but he continues to rank in the top 10 in the NAHL in goals against average (4th at 1.93) and save percentage (7th at .925). His five wins rank 5th in the league.
Renfrew scored the lone Ice Dog goal in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Steel, which snapped the Dogs’ 4-game win streak. The Fairbanks native leads the Dogs, and is tied for sixth in the league with 8 goals on the season.
With 17 points on the season, the Ice Dogs find themselves tied for second place with the Minnesota Magicians in the division. The Dogs hold an advantage in winning percentage over the Magicians, having earned their points in two fewer games. The Jr. Blues lead the division by the slightest of margins, a 1-point advantage over the Dogs and Magicians (the Dogs have a higher winning percentage than the Jr. Blues as well).
Springfield comes into the series as the most penalized team in the league, averaging 21.33 PIMS per game, with Zach Bade leading all NAHL skaters earning 14 minor penalties on the season. The Ice Dogs boast the leagues 3rd most potent power play attack, scoring on 33.3% of their opportunities. However, they haven’t seen that type of success at home, scoring on 19% of their power play chances.
Denali State Bank sponsors this weekend’s series, and fans are encouraged to arrive early for a chance to enter to win cold-hard cash during intermissions. Doors open each night at 6:30 p.m., with puck drop set for 7:30. Tickets are available at Gene’s Chrysler, Play It Again Sports, Ft Wainwright ASYMCA, Eielson Community Center, Ice Dogs Office or online at the link below: