Posted: Saturday, November 1, 2014 11:45 pm
FAIRBANKS— Puck support, transition and Hans Gorowsky were among the effective elements for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Saturday night.
Gorowsky, a veteran center, produced two of the Ice Dogs’ three goals in the third period of a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wilderness in the Big Dipper Ice Arena, giving Fairbanks a sweep of the series between the top two teams in the North American Hockey League’s Midwest Division.
Jacob Hetz and Lonnie Clary also scored and goaltender Chase Munroe stopped 19 shots for first-place Fairbanks, 12-6-1 overall and winners of their last seven games.
The Ice Dogs were coming off of a 4-3 shootout victory on Friday night. However, the second-place Wilderness (9-6-1) had constantly pressured the hosts during the third period and it led Minnesota to tie the game at 3 during the last two minutes, forcing overtime and the eventual shootout.
The Ice Dogs moved the puck better out of their zone Saturday, compared to their struggles in the third period Friday.
“We started off pretty strong and had a little lull near the end of the first period,’’ said Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart, alluding to a 1-1 tie in the first period Saturday.
“In the second and third (periods), I thought we were better,’’ Stewart continued. “It created some opportunities for us being closer to pucks, having quicker options when we had the puck on our sticks.”
The Ice Dogs benefitted, too, from denying the Wilderness during a three-minute power play that started late in the second period and carried over to the third period.
Ice Dogs forward Mitchell Baumann received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for grabbing a face mask at 17:10 of the second period. At the same time, Minnesota forward Michael Covach was a minor for cross-checking, trimming the Wilderness’ power play and the Ice Dogs penalty-killing by two minutes.
Killing that penalty proved to be a confidence builder for the Ice Dogs.
“Killing a power play for three minutes … once you get back five-on-five, you definitely have some momentum going,” said Munroe, who improved to 3-1-0.
The Ice Dogs killed two power plays Saturday, and went 1 for 5 themselves with the extra skater.
Fairbanks’ power-play tally occurred on their last man-advantage opportunity, snapped the 1-all tie and mark the beginning of Gorowsky’s back-to-back contributions.
At 4:26 of the third period, Ethan Somoa skated up just to the outside of the left circle and slid the puck toward the net. Gorowsky bolted through the slot to pounce on the puck and sneak it past Wilderness goalie Brock Kautz (23 saves). Ryner Gorowsky, Hans’ brother, also assisted.
“I remember breaking the puck out at the end of our power play and I think they got caught in a (shift) change,” said Hans Gorowsky, who has four goals and 11 assists this season.
“They didn’t have numbers back and Ethan realized I had speed coming through the middle,’’ Gorowsky added. “He threw in the middle, put it in an area where I could get and I just tried to shoot it as quick as I can, and I was fortunate that it went in.”
Hans Gorowsky made it 3-1 after skating to near the same spot from which Somoza set him up. The veteran center meant to pass to his onrushing brother but the puck instead went in the net.
Lonnie Clary’s unassisted empty-net goal sealed the win with 1 minute left in the third. Alex Toscano, with assists from Nick Hedemyr and Alex Trapp, scored for the Wilderness with 38 seconds left.
Hetz and Wilderness forward Tyler Cline made it 1-1 in the first period. Hetz’s marker at 12:31 was assisted by Chandler Madry and Todd Burgess and Cline got helped from Dan Litchke and Jack Forbort at 16:20.
The Ice Dogs play host to the Kenai River Brown Bears in a Midwest Division series at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Dipper.
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