FAIRBANKS, ALASKA- The Springfield Jr. Blues and Fairbanks Ice Dogs skated to a series split in a pair of nearly identical games at the Big Dipper Ice Arena over the weekend, with the Dogs winning 3-2 in regulation on Friday and the Jr. Blues winning 3-2 in overtime on Saturday. Both games saw the Ice Dogs skate to a 2-0 lead, only to see the Jr. Blues come back to tie the game. Both teams’ penalty kill units were perfect over the weekend, with Springfield killing the two shorthanded situations it faced, and the Ice Dogs successful on all five penalty kills they faced, including a 5-minute major in the third period of Saturday’s game. Cameron Ricotta enjoyed a 4 point weekend with a goal and 3 assists in the two games, as the Dogs’ held their perch atop the NAHL Midwest Division.
Jack Olson got the start in net for the Dogs on Friday and turned in a 30 save performance to earn the second NAHL win of his career. Ricotta assisted on each of the Ice Dog tallies, finding Brady Welsch in the first period, and Julian Recine in the second. He recorded the secondary assist on Joey Potter’s eventual game winner at 15:43 of the third period of the Dogs’ 3-2 victory.
First period goals from Ricotta and Justin Biraben had the Dogs out front 2-0 after 20 minutes of play Saturday night. However, the Jr. Blues would dominate the second period, scoring a pair of goals to tie the game, while limiting the Ice Dogs to just 4 shots on net in the frame. Following a scoreless third period, the Jr. Blues earned the extra point when Jake Peterson scored one minute and 26 seconds into over time to secure the 3-2 win for the visitors.
With the 3-points earned on the weekend, the Dogs move into a first place tie with Kenai River in the NAHL Midwest Division. The Dogs and Bears each have 31 points and identical .620 win percentages. Janesville is third with 29 points, while the Chippewa Steel currently hold the fourth and final playoff spot in the Midwest Division. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Anchorage and Springfield round out the divisional standings.
Ricotta leads the Ice Dogs, and ranks 8th on the NAHL’s scoring list with 23 points off 6 goals and 17 assists this season. Billy Renfrew, who leads the Dogs with 9 goals this season, is tied with Tyler Herzberg and Jacob Conrad with 17 points on the season. Welsch is the fifth leading scoring for the Dogs with 14 points on the season.
The Dogs close out their 6-game home stand this weekend when they face the Anchorage Wolverines in a pair of Club 49 Cup games this weekend at the Dip. While Kenai River and Fairbanks lead the Midwest Division, it’s the Wolverines who lead the Club 49 Cup standings. The Club 49 Cup, presented by Alaska Airlines is an intra-state, in-season rivalry series between the three Alaska-based NAHL teams. The Ice Dogs are the inaugural and reigning cup champions and will look to be the outright leaders this season after the weekend.
Single game tickets for both games are available online or locally at:
- Eielson ITT Community Center
- Ft Wainwright ASYMCA
- Play It Again Sports
- Gene’s Chrysler
- Ice Dogs office