FAIRBANKS— The Kenai River Brown Bears were a different North American Hockey League team on Saturday night than the group that Fairbanks Ice Dogs defeated by eight goals Friday night.
The Ice Dogs, though, emerged with the same outcome Saturday in the Big Dipper Ice Arena as they did Friday — a victory, their ninth in a row.
The Ice Dogs rallied for an 8-5 win, aided by two goals apiece from Hans Gorowsky, Ethan Somoza and Chandler Madry, and 21 saves from goaltender Chase Munroe.
The Ice Dogs, in first place in the NAHL’s Midwest Division at 14-6-1, were coming off a 9-1 win in the series opener and third game of this season’s 16-game Ravn Alaska Cup Series.
The Brown Bears, of Soldotna, immediately showed that they weren’t the same team that the Ice Dogs encountered Friday in the Dipper.
Kenai River, in fifth place in the Midwest at 8-11-0, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period Saturday, held a 4-3 lead after the second period and evened the score at 5 in the third period.
“You’ve got to expect that kind of stuff. Beat them 9-1 and you know they’re going to come back fighting like crazy,’’ said Ice Dogs forward Lonnie Clary, who contributed an assist Saturday. “I don’t expect any team to get beat like that to just lay around and roll dead. They’re going to come back lively and come after us.”
Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said he knew, too, that the Brown Bears were going to come out tough and he commended Kenai River’s effort.
“Hats off to them, they had us on the ropes,’’ said Stewart, “and it could have been worse than 2-0, but fortunately Chase made a couple of big saves and timely saves, and the guys woke up a little bit.”
The Ice Dogs were bright and alert in the third period, outscoring the Brown Bears 5-1, helped early by a five-minute power play.
The Ice Dogs got the lengthy power play because of a checking-from-behind major and misconduct to the Brown Bears’ Colton Fletcher at 2:34 into the period.
Fairbanks capitalized twice on the power play, starting with Madry making it 4-4 at 3:14 with a rip from the top of the slot, courtesy of a centering pass by Todd Burgess and an assist from John Zimmerman.
Burgess pulled the Ice Dogs in front 5-4 with a shot from the left circle at 6:03 after he gained the rebound of Madry’s attempt.
“The power play was on fire tonight,” Gorowsky said, alluding to the Ice Dogs’ 3-for-7 outcome with extra skater. The Brown Bears finished 2 for 6 on the power play.
Kenai River’s Joseph Kaszupski, with his second goal of the night, even the score at 5 at 9:35 with Alex Jackstadt’s second assist of the game and a helper from Maurin Bouvet.
Yannick Vedel, aided by Clary’s centering pass from behind the net, provided the go-ahead goal at 13:41 of the third. Gorowsky, during a four-minute power play, put the Ice Dogs up 7-5 at 16:13 with help from Madry and Robin Karlsson.
Madry capped the victory with a high wrist shot at 18:16, aided by Dalton Skelly’s second assist Saturday and a helper from Jacob Hetz.
The Ice Dogs’ firepower in the first period was a little off compared to Friday’s opening stanza, when they led the Brown Bears 3-1.
Gorowsky, with his second goal of the weekend, provided Fairbanks’ first goal Saturday at 14:43, taking feeds from Somoza and John Teets to beat Kenai River netminder Alec Derks (27 saves) through traffic in front of the crease.
The goal also occurred one second after the Ice Dogs missed on their second of three power plays in the period.
The Brown Bears doubled their offensive output from all of Friday’s contest, taking a 2-0 lead with goals from Kaszupski and Tyler Andrews.
Kaszupski scored at 1:31 into the game with help from Alex Jackstadt and Austin Chavez. At 12:20, Andrews, aided by Jack Gessert, converted Kenai River’s second power play of the weekend.
Each team scored twice in the second period, starting with consecutive goals from Somoza at 1:56 and 7:46. Skelly and Ryner Gorowsky assisted on the first goal and Ryner Gorowsky aided the second goal.
Jackstadt, on the way to a three-point night, made it 3-3 at 8:18 of the second and Bouvet’s tally at 11:13 sent the Brown Bears into the second intermission ahead by one goal.
The Ice Dogs are back in the Dipper on Thursday through Saturday, facing the Wenatchee (Washington), a former Midwest Division rival that in it’s first season in the South Division.
Thursday’s game starts at 7 p.m., and Friday and Saturday’s contest begin at 7:30 p.m. each.
Contact sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: