FAIRBANKS — For a minute, it looked like the Fairbanks Ice Dogs were going to continue what has been a successful 11-game road trip.
Forward Hunter Wendt gave the Ice Dogs an early lead when he scored just
1:08 into a North American Hockey League contest against the Johnstown Tomahawks on Friday night at Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
The NAHL’s defending Robertson Cup champions surrendered five unaswered goals — including three in the opening frame — in a 5-1 loss to the Tomahawks.
With the loss, the Ice Dogs drop to 11-16-2-1 on the season. They sit in fifth place in the Midwest Division standings with 25 points.
Johnstown, which holds third place in the East, improved to 20-7-1-1 for 42 points.
After Christopher Trouba beat Fairbanks starting goaltender Joshua Sarlo 6:30 into the contest, the Tomahawks delivered a blow late in the opening frame.
Logan Stork gave the team a one-goal lead 17:24 into the period before Donovan Ott extended Johnstown’s advantage to 3-1 just 32 seconds later.
Ott netted his 16th goal of the season 3:05 into the second period, and Dalton Hunter capped off the Tomahawks’ scoring spree by burying his 19th goal of the season with 4:04 remaining in regulation.
Sarlo was pulled following Ott’s second goal, as he stoped seven of the 11 shots he faced in 23:05 of action.
Josh Benson made three saves in relief during the bulk of the final two periods.
Johnstown goalie Drew Hotte made 16 saves to secure the victory.
Nick Bruce registered two assists for the Tomahawks, while Roman Kraemer, Joseph Kile, Hayden Rowan and Hunter all added helpers in the win.
The Ice Dogs had been on a roll during the first half of their lengthy road trip. Prior to Christmas break, Fairbanks split a two-game series against the New Jersey Titans on Dec. 9 and 10, and swept the Northeast Generals in a three-game series Dec. 15-17.
Johnstown hosts the Ice Dogs today at 2 p.m. AKST, and Fairbanks will remain in Pennsylvania for the remainder of its road trip.
The team visits the Aston Rebels on Jan. 6-7 before facing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Jan. 14-15.
After that, it’s home sweet home for the Ice Dogs, who will host the Generals Jan. 19-21 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. The opener of that series begins at 7 p.m., with the final two games each starting at 7:30 p.m.
Latvia, which includes Ice Dogs forward Robert Blueger and Johnstown forward Filip Buncis, ended the World Junior Championship 0-5 pool record after a 4-2 loss Friday to Slovakia at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Blueger had a plus-minus of -2 in 4 minutes, 3 seconds of ice time. Blueger had no points in this year’s tournament after contributing a goal for his home country in last year’s tournament in Finland.
Buncis recorded his first points of the tournament with an assist on Karlis Cukste’s goal at 3:40 of the first period Friday and a power play at 3:29 of the third of Latvia’s pool-play finale.
News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin contributed to this report. Contact News-Miner sports writer Brad Joyal at 459-7530. Follow him on Twitter: @bradjoyal.