FAIRBANKS,ALASKA- The Friday woes continue for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs who split with the Chippewa Steel over the weekend, falling 3-1 on Friday before winning 6-3 on Saturday. The split, combined with a Springfield sweep of the Minnesota Magicians, leaves the Dogs tied with the Jr. Blues atop the NAHL Midwest Division.
Keven Marx Noren scored the lone Ice Dogs goal on Friday night. Trailing 2-0, Marx Noren struck on the power play 34 seconds into the third period to cut the lead in half. However, Nick Sajevic scored midway through the final frame to extend the Steel lead to 3-1, closing the door on the Dogs’ bid for a comeback. Tyler Krivtsov made 19 saves in the 3-1 Ice Dogs’ loss. Alexander Malinowski saw a 14-game home point streak come to an end, while Tyler Stewart’s 11-game home point streak was snapped.
Cameron Ricotta and Brady Welsch scored goals to stake the Dogs to a 2-1 lead following the first period play in Saturday night’s game. Goals from Ryan Remick and Sajevic had the Steel up 3-2 with just over 10 minutes to play in the second period. On this night however, the Dogs would respond. Tyler Stewart collected a loose puck behind the Steel net and proceeded to lace a pass to the slot and an awaiting Welsch, who one-timed a shot that beat Crioux Kockendorfer blocker side for his second goal of the game, which knotted the tilt at 3 after two periods of play.
“It was a great play by Tyler Stewart, all I had to do was pound it home,” Welsch said.
That goal was key because the Dogs are yet to win a game this season when trailing after the second period. It took just a minute and 25 seconds of the third period for the Ice Dogs to take the lead for good. Braden Lindstrom chipped a puck out of his own zone that found Ricotta in the neutral zone. Ricotta rushed the puck up the left wing and put a pass on the tape of Alexander Malinowski on the odd-man. The Swede’s shot was true and he buried to put the Dogs up 4-3. Jake Hale and Marx Noren scored into empty nets with less than a minute to play, completing the 6-3 Ice Dogs victory.
The game was much closer than the score would indicate, as Kayden Hargraves was under siege most of the night. The Denver, Colorado native stopped 40 of the 43 shots he faced, making numerous highlight reel saves that brought the capacity crowd to its feet. He earned top star of the game honors.
The Dogs needed the split to keep pace with the Springfield Jr. Blues. The teams are now tied atop the NAHL Midwest Division with 71 points, but the Jr. Blues still have two games in-hand over Fairbanks with just three weeks to play in the regular season. The Minnesota Wilderness (64 pts) sit in third, while the Anchorage Wolverines (62 pts) hold fourth place in the division. Janesville (61 pts) and the Minnesota Magicians (57 pts) are in the playoff hunt, sitting in fifth and sixth place respectively.
The Ice Dogs take to the road this weekend, traveling to the Peninsula to face the Kenai River Brown Bears for the final time this season. It’s a return to Club 49 Cup play for the Dogs, and they find themselves look up at the Wolverines in the battle for junior hockey supremacy in the state of Alaska. The Wolverines swept the Brown Bears over the weekend to take a 3-point lead over Fairbanks in the race for the inaugural Club 49 Cup. The Dogs will need to sweep the Brown Bears to retake the lead and set up a show down with Anchorage for the Club 49 Cup title April 8-9 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
ALEXANDER MALINOWSKI LEADS THE NAHL WITH A 32-40-72 SCORING LINE
MALINOWSKI RANKS 4TH (T) IN NAHL IN GOALS; 4TH 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 226 GOALS (4.04 PER GAME)
ICE DOGS POWER PLAY RANKS 5TH (25.5%) IN NAHL
ICE DOGS PENALTY KILL RANKS 4TH (84.8%) IN NAHL
CONGRATULATIONS to Ice Dogs alumni Sam Ruffin and Hunter Wendt on helping the Adrian College Bulldogs win the program’s first NCAA D-III national hockey championship. The Bulldogs won 5-2 over SUNY Geneseo in the championship game in Lake Placid on Saturday. Ruffin had a pair of goals and an assist in the title game, and earned 2nd Team West All-American honors in his senior season.
The Ice Dogs will be well represented in the NCAA D-I Men’s Hockey Frozen Four tournament. Six former Ice Dog players and two former assistant coaches will compete for the national title April 7-9 in Boston, MASS. Ice Dog alums Kyle Mayhew and Jack Caruso will skate for Denver, with former assistant coach Dallas Ferguson on the bench for the Pioneers. Ice Dog alumni Tanner Edwards, Benton Maass and Reggie Lutz will skate for Minnesota State, while former player and assistant coach Paul Kirkland will be on the bench for the Mavericks. Meanwhile, Johnny Sorenson will skate for the Minnesota Gophers in the Frozen Four. The Gopher-Maverick matchup in the semi-finals guarantees that an Ice Dogs alum will play in the national championship game.