FAIRBANKS, ALASKA- Dave Allison made his debut as Ice Dogs head coach Friday night, and the team responded with a lopsided 10-1 win over the Kenai River Brown Bears. A much closer affair Saturday night, as Jake Hale’s empty net goal sealed a 5-3 win in front of a capacity crowd at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. Allison took the reins of the team on Jan. 10 after Trevor Stewart stepped down as head coach to accept the associate head coach job at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
“I’ll continue to credit Stew (Trevor Stewart) for the way this team plays,” Allison said after Friday’s win. “It’s like I’ve been given the keys to a Ferrari and I just need to make sure it stays on the road.”
Hale, Tyler Stewart, Billy Renfrew and Cameron Ricotta each scored two goals, while Jack Ring added four assists in Friday’s 10-1 win. Marcus Lund and Alexander Malinowski added markers, while Kayden Hargraves stopped 30 of 31 shots to collect his 15th win of the season. The Ice Dog win included the second highest goal output (10), and the largest goal differential (9) in an NAHL game this season.
Ricotta struck for the lone first period goal on Saturday night. However, the Brown Bears took a brief 2-1 lead midway through the second period off goals from Ryan Finch and Max Marquette. Camden Shasby scored his fifth of the season to tie the game just 50 seconds after the Brown Bears took their first lead of the series. Renfrew added his third goal of the series just over 3 minutes later to put the Dogs ahead 3-2 heading into the second intermission. Tyler Stewart opened the third period with his third goal of the series, the eventual game winner in the 5-3 win. Tyler Krivtsov stopped 31 of 34 shots for his 10th win of the season.
With the sweep, the Ice Dogs (51 points) extended their lead to 5 points over the Springfield Jr. Blues in the NAHL Midwest Division standings. The Jr. Blues and third place Anchorage Wolverines were idle over the weekend, Springfield now has four games in hand over the Dogs and a slightly better winning percentage at this stage of the season. The Minnesota Magicians hold down the fourth spot in the midwest with 38 points on the season. The Ice Dogs surpassed Corpus Christi for the league lead in attendance, as 39,842 fans have filled the Dipper seats through 19 home games this season.
“It was loud,” Allison said following his first game coaching at the Dip. “I’ve been in front of 16,000 people, and while there wasn’t 16,000 in the building tonight, it sure sounded like it.”
With two more Club 49 Cup victories, the Ice Dogs extend their lead in the intrastate, in-season, tournament between the three Alaska based NAHL clubs. The action continues this weekend in Alaska’s largest city, as the Dogs travel to face the Anchorage Wolverines in the Ben Boeke arena. The Club 49 Cup, presented by Alaska Airlines, really heats up in the second half of the season with a total of 20 games between the three teams.
- Malinowski ranks second on the league’s scoring list with 44 points off 17 goals and 27 assists
- Renfrew leads the team and ranks fourth (t) in the NAHL with 20 goals on the season
- Shasby and Owen Neuharth co-lead the Dogs and rank third in the NAHL with a plus 23 rating
- Hargraves’ 2.40 goals against average ranks 9th in NAHL, ranks 10th in save percentage (.920)
- Ricotta has at least one goal in four straight home games
- Dogs have won seven consecutive home games
- Dogs lead the NAHL with 156 goals (4.22 GPG)
- Ice Dogs power play ranks third (t) at 25%
- Ice Dogs penalty kill ranks fourth at 87%
The Ice Dogs return to the Big Dipper Jan. 28 when they host the Kenai River Brown Bears in Club 49 Cup play.