The Ice Dogs, on the way to a 5-3 victory, seemingly had an answer when the
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights stepped up its attacks during the opening game of a nondivisional North American Hockey League series.
The Knights, in second place in the East Division, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first period. The Ice Dogs, the Midwest Division leaders, responded with three goals during the first 20 minutes of the weekend series.
The Knights closed the Ice Dogs’ lead to 4-3 in the second period. Fairbanks answered with Hunter Wendt’s third-period goal to earn its seventh win of its eight-game holiday road trip.
The Ice Dogs, with a goal and an assist each from Tanner Schachle, Erkka Vanska and Caleb Hite and 29 saves from goaltender Josh Benson, improved to 27-5-3-2 for 49 points in the standings.
“It was back and forth,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said from Pittston. “The first five minutes, they completely dominated. We settled in a little bit the last 10 or 15 minutes of the first period. We put ourselves in a good position.
“We started strong in the second period and then the wheels fall off after that,’’ he said. “It was just bad management of the game; we were making the game for difficult than it had to be. . . . We settled down in the third period and found a way to win.”
Wendt’s game-sealing marker at 14:34 of the third period was his 11th goal of the season and the only deposit in the net during the final 20 minutes of the contest.
Tyrone Bronte, set up by Tomas Koblizek and Adrian Danchenko, produced the game’s first goal at 33 seconds into the series.
Jake Borgida tied the game with help from Schachle and Connor Chilton at 5:36 and ignited Fairbanks’ three-goal surge in the first period.
Caleb Hite scored at 12:55 with assists from Noah Wilson and Daniel Haider. Schachle’s power-play goal off assists from linemates Robert Blueger and Vanska put Fairbanks ahead 3-1 at 15:04 of the first.
The Knights 20-8-3-0 for 43 points, cut the Ice Dogs’ lead to one in the second period after Curtis Carlson scored back-to-back goals.
Carlson’s first tally was aided Luke Robinson and Matthew Kidney at 6:43 of the second. Kidney and Jack Olmstead set up Carlson at 8:03.
David Tomeo made 25 saves for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which faces Fairbanks at 2:30 p.m. AKST today. All Ice Dogs road games this season can be seen in the Finish Line Restaurant at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites, 4920 Dale Road, off Airport Way.
After the series with the Knights, the Ice Dogs return home to the Big Dipper Ice Arena to face the Lone Star Brahmas, last season’s Robertson Cup champions. The Ice Dogs and the Brahmas, of the South Division and North Richland Hills, Texas, play at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Ice Dogs won Robertson Cups in 2011, 2014 and 2016.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: @newsminersports