Ice Dogs fall, split series with Wenatchee

Tim O'Donnell

FAIRBANKS—A night after putting up seven goals on the Wenatchee Wild, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs found the offense harder to come by on Saturday night at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.

Wild goalie Michael Bullion, of Anchorage, held the Ice Dogs at bay as Wenatchee won 3-2 in a North American Hockey League matchup.

“To win in this league you have to be able to win back-to-back nights,” Ice Dogs assistant coach Paul Kirtland said. “Right now we’re a little inconsistent at that.”

Mike Coyne netted the game-winner with 4:05 left in the third period. While falling down under pressure in front of the net, Coyne as able to slide the puck past Ice Dogs goalie Kevin Aldridge.

“Honestly, I was falling over and just kept whacking at it. I didn’t know it went in,” Coyne said. “It was kind of a lucky goal.”

Bullion stopped 21 shots for the Wild (16-18-7). Those saves included stopping the Ice Dogs on a 3-on-1 in the second period and Hans Gorowsky on a partial breakaway in the same period.

“We feel like we have the best two goaltenders in the league,” Coyne said. “We always have confidence in our goaltenders and that really helps.”

The Ice Dogs (26-12-3) led briefly in the third period. Jesper Ohrvall had given the Ice Dogs a 2-1 lead 1:16 into the period. The native of Halmstad, Sweden carried the puck into the offensive before doing a spin-o-rama around a defenseman and roofing a shot under the crossbar.

“We knew they’d show up. They play with a lot of pride and that’s a very good team,” Ice Dogs assistant coach Paul Kirtland said of the Wild. “We knew it was a going to be a battle tonight.”

The Wild tie the game at two 41 seconds later on a goal from Kyle Stephan before Coyne scored the game-winner.

“(Friday) night we just didn’t play a team game, got blown out of the building,” Coyne said. “We really just tried to come together, play for each other and do the little things and it ended up paying off for us.”

Ohrvall, who finished with two goals, also scored at 19:14 of the second period to tie the game at one.

Since his return from injury against the Kenai River Brown Bears on Jan. 17, Ohrvall has six goals and eight points in four games. He scored four times in the Ice Dogs win over the Wild on Friday.

“We knew the skillset he had and we knew he could score goals,” Kirtland said. “Did I know he was going to score goal? No, but we’ll take it.”

Ohrvall brought the Ice Dogs level with the Wild at one at 19:14 of the second period. While on the power play, Ohrvall found the puck in a tangle of legs in the slot and fired a shot past Michael Bullion’s blocker.

The Ice Dogs were held to five shots on goal in the first period before firing 11 on net in the second, including Ohrvall’s goal.

“It all revolved around work ethic. We needed to win battles. we needed stick to our game plan, moving pucks, moving our feet,” Kirtland said of the between period talk. “When we work hard we have success.”

Augu Von Ungern-Sternberg put the Wild up 1-0 with 2:12 left in the first period. Von Ungern-Sternberg beat Aldridge on the stick side with a shot from the slot.

Coyne had the assist on Von Ungren-Sternberg’s goal after forcing a turnover at the offensive blueline.

Contact sports reporter Tim O’Donnell at 459-7583. Follow him on Twitter: