FAIRBANKS — For the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, there’s no place like the road. At least for now.
The Ice Dogs continued their successful road trip with a 5-3 victory over the Northeast Generals at the New England Sports Village in Attleboro, Massachusetts, on Friday night.
On Thursday, Fairbanks’ offense exploded to beat the Generals 10-3 in the first contest of this weekend’s three-game series against the East Division member that is still searching for its first win after 28 games in its inaugural season in the 24-team, Tier II junior A league.
With Friday’s win, the Ice Dogs improved their fifth-place record in the Midwest Division to 10-15-2-1 for 23 points in the standings. The Generals, meanwhile, fell to 0-23-4.
Fairbanks peppered Northeast goaltender Gabe Vinal with 37 shots, as they took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission after Samuel Ruffin and Tanner Schacle each beat Vinal in the opening frame.
Aaron McPheters and Schacle both registered assists on Ruffin’s score, which gave the Ice Dogs a 1-0 lead 11:00 into the contest.
Unlike Thursday, when the Ice Dogs jumped out to a 5-0 advantage in the first period of play, the Generals answered quickly when Kohei Sato evened the score 1-1 just 55 seconds after Ruffin’s third goal of the season.
However, it didn’t take long for Fairbanks to regain control, as Schacle lit the lamp on an Ice Dogs power play 14:16 into the first period.
Although Cayden Cahill scored his seventh goal of the season for Fairbanks 11:46 into the second period, the Generals responded when Colin Bilek and Dean Hewines both found the back of the net against the Ice Dogs’ net-minder, CJ Boothe, in the middle frame.
Despite allowing the Generals to tie the score 3-3 before the second intermission, Fairbanks continued to have success against Vinal (33 saves) in the final 20 minutes of action.
Hampus Eriksson tickled the twine to give the Ice Dogs a 4-3 edge 7:51 into the third period before Nick Rogers added an empty-net goal for good measure with 55 seconds remaining in regulation.
Dean Hewines assisted on both goals in the third period, while Marc Sullivan recorded a helper on Eriksson’s game-winner.
Boothe made 25 saves to secure the win for the Ice Dogs.
The victory marks Fairbanks’ third in a four-game stretch, as they beat the New Jersey Titans 5-4 at the Middletown Ice World Arena in Middletown, New Jersey, on Dec. 9.
Even though the Titans answered to earn a series split with a 2-0 victory over the Ice Dogs on Dec. 10, Fairbanks has put itself in position to sweep the Generals if it can earn another win in the series finale back at the New England Sports Village at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon.
After today’s game, the Ice Dogs will remain on the East Coast for a two-game series against the Johnstown Tomahawks, of Johnstown, Pennysylvania, on Dec. 30 and New Year’s Eve. The first contest with the Tomahawks will begin at 3:30 p.m., while the two teams will meet at 3 p.m. Dec. 31.
Both meetings with Johnstown will be played at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
Contact News-Miner sports writer Brad Joyal at 459-7530. Follow him on Twitter: @bradjoyal.