Fairbanks Ice Dogs win fifth game in a row

FAIRBANKS – The Fairbanks Ice Dogs made it five in a row on Saturday night thanks to a four-goal outburst in the third period.

Trailing 2-0 after the first period, the Ice Dogs turned up the heat with three power-play goals in the final period to claim a 4-2 win against the Kenai River Brown Bears in Soldotna.

Four of the Ice Dogs\’ (15-11-1) five wins in the streak have come against Kenai (5-22-1). The two teams meet again at 5 p.m. today to close out the three-game series at the Peninsula Ice Center.

\”If you gave us a grade by each period, I would say we got an F and an F, followed by an A,\” a relieved Ice Dogs coach Josh Hauge said via telephone following the game. \”We did not bring our best effort to the rink tonight, and we did not deserve to win.

\”For 40 minutes we were not a very good hockey team, but for the last 20 we decided to be the team that we can be and played great hockey,\” Hauge said. \”We were lucky that we got the job done in the third period.\”

Michael Juola, the North American Hockey League\’s leading scorer, was in on all four third-period goals as he registered two goals and two assists.

\”We have five or six guys who carry the mail for this team, and I was very upset with them,\” Hauge said. \”Mike is in that group, and I let him know it. It was good to see him respond. When he responds, he\’s a very special talent.\”

In addition to Juola\’s four-point night, Jared Larson had a goal and two assists, Zach Tolkinen had a goal and an assist, and Mike Pustin, Josh Nelson and Kyle Politz all chipped in with helpers.

Juola got the Ice Dogs going when he scored at 1:12 of the third with assists from Larson and Tolkinen.

A little more than a minute later, the Ice Dogs\’ power play went into effect. After going 0 for 3 in the first two periods, Fairbanks spanked in three straight goals with a man-advantage.

Tolkinen tied the game at the 2:39 mark thanks to assists from Juola and Larson.

Larson scored what proved to be the game-winner at the 5:06 mark with the help of Pustin and Juola.

Juola punctuated the rally with a power-play tally off assists from Nelson and Politz at the 13:13 mark.

While the Ice Dogs were sleepwalking through the first two periods, goalie Mike Taffe was giving his team a chance to win. Taffe stopped 15 of the 17 shots that came his way in the first two periods. Fairbanks only had 12 shots on goal through 40 minutes, but wound up with 26.

\”Taffe gave us a chance,\” Hauge said. \”He kept us close enough to be within striking distance.\”

The Ice Dogs moved to within eight points of the second-place Alaska Avalanche in the South division standings.

After tonight\’s game in Soldotna, the Ice Dogs return home to host the Avalanche for a three-game series Dec. 10-12 at the Big Dipper.

Contact sports editor Bob Eley at beley@newsminer.com or 459-7581.