SOLDOTNA- The Fairbanks Ice Dogs take a bite out of the Kenai River Brown Bears’ lead in the North American Hockey League Midwest Division. Fairbanks used a 5-4 overtime win on Friday and a 3-1 victory on Saturday to complete a weekend road sweep of the Brown Bears. With the pair of wins, the Dogs climb to within 1-point of the Brown Bears divisional lead through 14 games.
Behind pairs of goals from Colin Goff and Billy Renfrew, the Ice Dogs spoiled the Brown Bears home opener posting a 5-4 overtime win. The Ice Dogs trailed most of the game with Domenick Evtimov scoring tabbing a 1st period marker, Goff scoring in the 2nd period, and Renfrew and Goff scoring in the 3rd period. The Brown Bears had leads of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, and 4-3 with goals from Nick Stevens, Ashton Christman, Garett Drotts, and Parker Lockwood. However, it took Renfrew just 23 seconds of overtime play to net the game-winner. Kayden Hargraves made 49 saves to collect the win in net, while Nils Wallstrom made 31 saves in the loss.
Fairbanks took a 2-0 lead Saturday night thanks to a 1st period power play goal from Jacob Conrad and a 2nd period short-handed tally from Brady Welsch. The Brown Bears made it a 2-1 game later in the 2nd period on a (5-3) power play goal from Bryce Monrean. Welsch added an empty-net goal in the 3rd period to secure the 3-1 win. The Dogs peppered Brown Bears goalie Bryant Marks 40 shots on the night, while limiting Kenai River to 26 shots, 25 of which Hargraves turned away. Welsch co-leads the NAHL with 3 game winning goals this season.
The Ice Dogs earn four Club 49 Cup points to climb into a tie with the Wolverines, while the Brown Bears do get on the board with Friday’s overtime loss.
Despite getting swept, the Brown Bears continue to lead the Midwest Division, clinging to a 1-point lead over the Ice Dogs with 19 points on the season. The Janesville Jets are one point back of Fairbanks with 17, while Chippewa rounds out the top 4 with 16 points. The streaking Minnesota Wilderness hold 5th place, while Anchorage sits sixth, with Springfield and Wisconsin bringing up the rear.
The Ice Dogs return to the friendly confines of the Big Dipper arena, where they’ll look to earn their first true home win of the season when they take on Chippewa in the opener of a 2-game set Friday night. The weekend is sponsored by Clarion, the Ice Dogs’ official hotel partner. Tickets are available online and at all local ticketing outlets.