CLOQUET, MINN- The Fairbanks Ice Dogs stretched their win streak to 9 games with a New Year’s Eve 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wilderness, but saw it come to a close with a 5-4 loss on New Year’s Day. The Dogs’ 9-game heater began Nov. 26, and marks the longest winning streak of any North American Hockey League team this season. Despite the setback, the Ice Dogs maintain their perch atop the NAHL standings with a 23-9-0-1 record, good for 47 points on the season.
Fairbanks native Alexander Kulmanovsky netted his first NAHL goal at 5:27 of the first period on Friday. Noah Griswold tabbed his fourth of the season just over 3 minutes later, and that was all the offense the Dogs needed in the 2-1 win over Minnesota. Tyler Krivtsov turned away 32 of 33 shots to stonewall the hosts.
A pair of goals from Alexander Malinowski and a tally from newcomer Parker Dorn staked the Dogs to a 3-1 lead in Saturday’s tilt. However, the Wilderness scored three consecutive goals in the third period to take a 4-3 lead. Marcus Lund stopped the bleeding, as his second goal of the season knotted the game at 4 heading into the final frame. Reid Conn scored the lone goal in the third period as the Wilderness claimed the 5-4 win. Krtivtsov stopped 24 shots in taking the loss in net. It’s the first time this season the Dogs have lost a game when leading after one period of play.
The Ice Dogs (47 points) maintain a five point lead over Springfield in the NAHL Midwest Division standings. Springfield has 2 games in hand and the two teams meet for a pivotal 2-game series this coming weekend in the Jr. Blues’ barn. Anchorage holds third place in the division, while Chippewa and the Minnesota Magicians round out the top five teams in the midwest.
Malinowski continues to lead the Dogs and is tied for second on the NAHL scoring list with 39 points off 16 goals and 23 assists this season. Billy Renfrew, Tyler Stewart and Owen Neuharth are tied for second on the team’s scoring list, each with 29 points on the season. Neuharth leads the team with a +23 rating, followed closely by Camden Sashby with a +21 rating, which leads all NAHL rookies and ranks second among league defensemen.
The Ice Dogs return home following this weekend’s series against the Jr. Blues. The first home series of 2022 begins Friday, Jan. 14 at the Big Dipper, when the Dogs open a 2-game series against the Kenai River Brown Bears in Alaska Club 49 Cup play. There are 13 home games remaining on the regular season schedule, meaning it’s a great time to pick up a 10-game value pack of tickets for the second half of the season.