MARSHALL, MINN- Playing in their “home away from home” the Fairbanks Ice Dogs broke out the broom on the Minnesota Wilderness at the Red Baron Arena & Expo in Marshall, Minnesota over the weekend. It was a homecoming of sorts for the Dogs who played a majority of the 2020-21 season in Marshall due to travel restrictions in Alaska related to COVID. It also marked the second consecutive weekend that the Dogs earned a series sweep, beating the Wilderness 5-3 Friday and 6-3 Saturday night.
Kayden Hargraves earned top star honors from Friday’s game, as the 19-year old from Westinster, CO stopped 37 of 40 shots to earn the win in net. Jake Hale, Cameron Ricotta and Nolan Cunningham struck for goals in the second period, and the Dogs never looked back in the 5-3 win. Owen Neuharth and Jack Ring added third period goals, while Tyler Stewart added a pair of assists in the game.
Neuharth opened the scoring in Saturday’s tilt, potting one with less than 5 minutes to play in the first period. The Dogs offense exploded after the first intermission, scoring 4 goals in the second period. Ricotta buried a pair, while Jacob Conrad and Stewart also put the biscuit in the basket in the second stanza. However, the Wilderness also found success in the offensive zone, putting 3 goals into the back of the net to keep the game competitive. With that tenuous 2-goal lead for a majority of the third period, Tyler Herzberg relieved the pressure with an empty-net goal at 18:04 of the third period to seal the 6-3 win. Tyler Krivtsov stopped 22 shots to collect the win in net.
The red-hot Ice Dogs’ winning streak sits at four games, and it’s come on the back of an extremely effective offensive attack. The Ice Dogs have scored 24 goals in that stretch and lead the entire NAHL with 111 goals on the season. Veteran winger Tyler Stewart has led the charge, with a 3-5-8 scoring line during the winning streak. The Ice Dog attack is particularly potent in the second period, tallying 48 goals in the second frame of games this season. The Ice Dog power play ranks third in the NAHL, scoring on 27.4 percent of chances, with a league best 36.7 power play percentage in road games this season. The Ice Dog penalty kill also among the league’s best, ranking fifth at 86.5 percent.
Alexander Malinowski continues to lead the Dogs in scoring, ranking fourth in the NAHL with 32 points off 12 goals and 20 assists through 27 games this season. Stewart and Neuharth are tied for second on the team’s scoring list, each with 26 points respectively. Billie Renfrew leads the team with 13 goals, while Malinowski is the Dogs’ top assist man. Kayden Hargraves is tied for sixth among league goaltenders with a 2.31 goals against average. His .922 save percentage ranks 10th in the NAHL.
The Ice Dogs remain on top of the NAHL Midwest Division with 37 points. The Springfield Jr. Blues kept pace, sweeping Janesville and remain two points back of the Dogs. Chippewa sits third, four points back of the Jr. Blues, while the Anchorage Wolverines remain in fourth place with 29 points on the season. The Wolverines split with the Kenai River Brown Bears in Club 49 Cup play. The Ice Dogs lead the 3-team, intrastate tournament, played throughout the regular season.
The Dogs travel to play the third place Chippewa Steel in a 2-game series this weekend in Wisconsin. They travel to face Janesville the following weekend, and will then be idle through the Christmas holiday.