Ice Dogs bounce Brown Bears in series opener

FAIRBANKS—There were at least two indications Friday that the Fairbanks Ice Dogs were having a good night in the Big Dipper Ice Arena.

One indication was a puck stuck in the net  in the second period of the North American Hockey League series opener against the Kenai River Brown Bears.

The other was three straight power-play goals in the third period, ending a significant drought with the man-advantage and helping tuck away a 6-1 win in the Midwest Division rivalry and fifth contest of this season’s Ravn Alaska Cup Series.

Goaltender Patrick Munson turned away 16 shots to help the Ice Dogs improve to their second-place record in the Midwest to 22-11-3 for 47 points. Fairbanks is just one point behind the Minnesota Wilderness, who were idle Friday.

Fairbanks assistant coach Paul Kirtland said that playing in the Dipper before a turnout of 2,242 also helped the Ice Dogs on Friday.

“I think being at home, guys were excited,’’ he said, “and this is probably the best place to play in the league, if not all of junior hockey.”

Friday’s win also kicked off a 17-game, eight-week stretch in which the Ice Dogs don’t leave Alaska. They will either be playing at the Dipper or in Kenai River’s home rink, the Soldotna Sports Center.

Veteran forward Hans Gorowsky produced two power play goals in the third period Friday while three teammates contributed two points apiece. Ethan Somoza and Jacob Hetz had a goal and an assist each and Ryner Gorowsky dispensed two assists.

“I just think tonight was a better game than we usually play,” Hetz said. “It was more structured, a more hard-working game than we played in the past recently. It was a good team win for us.”

 The Ice Dogs pulled away from the fifth-place Brown Bears (11-22-2) in the second period after clinging to a 1-0 lead in the first.

John Zimmerman, with help from Tyler Tomberlin and Ryner Gorowsky, made it 2-0 at 11:28 of the second with a rip from the top of the slot that got over the glove hand of Brown Bears goalie Alec Derks (33 saves). 

Kenai River forward Evan Butcher, aided by defenseman and former Ice Dog Ben Campbell, took advantage of an extra-attacker situation at 13:32 to trim the lead to 2-1.

Ingman, set up by Adam Anderson’s faceoff draw, blistered a shot from the right point that beat Derks and got stuck in the lower right side of the net. Hetz then skated up and took about a minute to knock the puck free with the blade of his stick.

“I just tried to shoot it at the net,  it went out hard and it got stuck,’’ said Ingman, “but I’m just happy that Hetz didn’t break his stick.”

Fairbanks found the back of the net three times in the third period while ending a power-play drought that covered five games and two weeks.

The Ice Dogs were 0 for 11 with the man-advantage in a four-game, nondivisional split against the Johnstown Chiefs and Keystone Ice Miners last week in Pennsylvania. Fairbanks also missed on its first four opportunities Friday against Kenai River.

Todd Burgess, assisted by Hetz and Chandler Madry, broke the drought and started the third-period power-play parade at the 2:59 mark.

“Not passing through sticks,’’ said Hans Gorowsky, “looking for the open guy, not rushing it and being patient, and spreading it out really helped.”

Gorowsky planted his power-play marker at 7:20 of the third, helped by Somoza. Gorowsky took advantage of his brother Ryner’s assistance at 13:05 to seal the win that put Fairbanks ahead 4-1 in this season’s Ravn Alaska Cup competition.

Somoza, set up by Hetz, provided the game’s first goal at 8:52 of the opening period.

Contact sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: