FAIRBANKS – After a scoreless first period, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs came to life on Friday night.
The Ice Dogs erupted for four goals in the second period and went on to post a 5-2 North American Hockey League victory against the Kenai River Brown Bears on Friday night at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
\”We started focusing on getting the pucks in deep and then we found a way to finish,\” Ice Dogs coach Josh Hauge said. \”We have a lot of firepower once we get going.\”
Hauge was preaching defense in practice all week and said the Ice Dogs might have come out a little tentative in the first period.
\”We may have been just a little bet hesitant to get up and get going because we have been working a lot on defense this week,\” he said.
That all changed in the second when James Saintey scored two goals and Kyle Politz and Josh Nelson each had one. Michael Juola added a third-period score.
\”It was good for James to have big night,\” Hauge said. \”He\’s a gifted hockey player with a great knack to finish in scoring area. Both of his goals were really nice.\”
Juola wound up with a four-point night as he registered three assists.
Politz added a pair of helpers while Saintey, Jon Feavel, Jon Schreiner, Mark Pustin and Brock Carlston had one each.
Politz got the Ice Dogs and a crowd of about 2,000 fans going when he lit the lamp 1 minute, 35 seconds into the second period. Saintey made it 2-0 at the 8:42 mark and Nelson scored what proved to be the game-winning goal a little more than a minute later.
Saintey completed the explosion with a goal at the 19:12 mark.
Kenai\’s Bruce Fusaro broke up Fairbanks goalie Mike Taffe\’s bid for a shutout when he scored at the 6:06 mark of the third on a scramble in front of the net.
After Juola scored at 15:28 to make it 5-1, the Brown Bears\’ Raymond Townsend notched a power-play goal at 16:49 to complete the scoring.
Taffe turned in another solid performance, stopping 28 shots.
\”He finds a way to win hockey games,\” Hauge said. \”On the second goal he had no chance. We had a missed assignment on the power play and he made the first save, but the Kenai guy was wide open to get the rebound.\”
It was the first of five straight games between the two teams. The Ice Dogs and Brown Bears play again at 7:30 tonight at the Dipper. Then, they switch venues to the Soldotna Sports Center for a three-game series on Thanksgiving weekend.
The Ice Dogs improved to 12-11-1 on the season, while the Brown Bears dropped to 5-19-1.
\”I think we\’re on the cusp of making a little run,\” Hauge said. \”Now that we\’ve won two in a row, we can look at No. 3. We still have to take it one game at a time.\”
Contact sports editor Bob Eley at 459-7581.