FAIRBANKS, ALASKA- The Ice Dogs never trailed the Anchorage Wolverines in a 2-game sweep of their in-state rival to close out the 2021 portion of play at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. The Dogs jumped out to early leads in both tilts, holding on for a 4-2 win on Friday, before exploding to a 9-3 victory on Saturday. The Dogs took 3 of 4 games in a home and home, two weekend tangle with the Wolverines, extending their lead to 6 points in the Club 49 Cup, presented by Alaska Airlines.
Tyler Stewart struck 34 seconds into Friday’s game, while Brendan Miles and Cameron Ricotta added first frame markers to put the Dogs up 3-0 after one period of play. The Wolverines responded with a pair of goals in the first six minutes of the second period, and provided continued pressure throughout the rest of the game. Alexander Malinowski’s empty netter with under two minutes to play in regulation sealed the 4-2 win. Kayden Hargraves stood tall in net, collecting 21 saves, and added his first assist as an Ice Dog on Malinowski’s goal.
Saturday night belonged to the Dogs and most notably Dakota MacIntosh. The rookie out of Winnipeg, MB, scored four goals in the 9-3 route. MacIntosh scored two goals in the first period and two in the third.
“It feels amazing,” MacIntosh said of his 4-goal night. “I’ve never scored that many goals before, especially to get a hat trick in the NAHL. Couldn’t have done it without the guys out there with me, couple of nice passes, the boys were going tonight.”
Malinowski, Stewart, Jack Ring, Billy Renfrew and Owen Neuharth added goals, while Nolan Cunningham provided three assists on the night. Tyler Krivtsov stopped 24 shots to collect the win in net. It was a perfect sendoff for the Ice Dogs, who now embark on their holiday road-trip that will include a home series in Marshall, Minn. The Fairbanks community supported the Dogs in force since the early October home opener, with over 30 thousand in combined attendance at home games this season.
“It’s like no other,” MacIntosh said of playing in front of the home crowd at the Dip. “The dynamics are so good, the fans are always into it. There’s never any dry moments here, it’s something I’ve never experienced.”
With the two wins, the Ice Dogs not only extend their lead in the Club 49 Cup, but they also regain a lead over the idle Springfield Jr. Blues in the NAHL Midwest division standings with 33 points on the season. The Jr. Blues are two points back, while the Chippewa Steel jump into the third spot with 29 points, with Anchorage and the Minnesota Wilderness tied at 27 points on the season.
Malinowski continues to the lead the Dogs and is tied for fourth on the NAHL’s scoring list with 30 points off 12 goals and 18 assists this season. Renfrew’s 13 goals lead the Dogs and are tied for sixth among the league’s top goal scorers. Neuharth is tied for eighth among NAHL playmakers with 19 assists on the season. Hargraves remains steady in net, ranking sixth in the NAHL with a 2.27 goals against average, and tenth with a .921 save percentage.
The Ice Dogs now head to the Lower 48. They host the Minnesota Wilderness in the afore mentioned series to be played in the Red Baron Arena in Marshall this weekend. The community of Marshall stepped up last season when the Ice Dogs were unable to play in Alaska due to travel restrictions related to COVID-19. The Dogs are indebted to the Marshall community for providing our home away from home. Tickets for the Marshall series can be purchased through the link below: