BLAINE, MN- The Fairbanks Ice Dogs survived a third period charge to collect their first win of the season, 4-3 over the Johnstown Tomahawks. The Dogs scored three goals in the span of 3 minutes 13 seconds in the second period to take a commanding lead.
“It was huge,” said Ice Dog Head Coach Trevor Stewart. “Guys were elated on the bench, obviously that’s what the game’s about, scoring goals, so for us to be able to do that was a big boost for our confidence. That was a veteran group we faced, with basically all returners. Our guys did a good job”
Leading 1-0 after a Jake Borgida shot found the back of the net when the puck bounced off Jax Murray in the first period, rookie defenseman Dylan Abbott netted his first career NAHL goal at 3:12 of the second to put the Dogs up 2-0. Just under two minutes later, Fairbanks native Trenton Woods, also a defenseman, sniped a shot on the rush to extend the lead to 3-0 Fairbanks. Johnstown would answer less than two minutes later, when Chad Merrell netted his third goal of the season at 6:05 of the second period to cut the lead to 3-1.
Twenty seconds later, Ice Dog rookie defenseman Lucas Erickson answered with his first NAHL goal, to give the Dogs a 4-1 lead.
“I just skated down the right wall, took their D wide and wrapped it home around the back side,” Erickson said. “Getting the first goal off the back is always nice early in the season.”
Erickson’s goal proved to be the game winner, and Stewart rewarded him with the game puck in the locker room following the win.
“We’ve been in a position a couple of times where we’ve been up and our opponent would score and we wouldn’t have an answer, so for him to be able to score there was huge,” Stewart said.
Johnstown scored twice in the third period to cut the lead to 4-3, but would get no closer. Ice Dog goalie Riley Sims stood tall in the final minutes of play, with the Tomahawks on a 6 on 5 advantage. Sims stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced in the game.
The Dogs close out play in the 2018 NAHL Showcase Saturday, when they face Minot at 4:00 p.m. Central Time.
“We have to come out with the same effort,” Erickson said. “We just got to grind again.”