FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks Ice Dogs saw the Aston Rebels score two goals in less than 2 minutes, 30 seconds into Friday night’s North American Hockey League game in Aston, Pennsylvania.
What the Ice Dogs didn’t see in the Ice Works Skating Complex was any of their shots get past Rebels goaltender Jack Leary.
The Ice Dogs suffered a 4-0 loss for the second straight shutout defeat of their five-week trip through the NAHL’s East Division.
“We had opportunities but you can never win a game if you don’t score a goal, which we didn’t do for the second consecutive game,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said by cellphone.
“That’s obviously got to change,” Stewart added.
The defending Robertson Cup national champions of the Tier II junior A league saw their fifth-place record in the Midwest Division slip to 11-18-2-1 for 25 points.
Goaltender Josh Benson recorded 16 saves Friday for the Ice Dogs, who meet the Rebels again at 3 p.m. AKST today.
“We need a little more hunger around the net,” Stewart said of today’s contest. “We need to move the puck better and have better transition out of our zone.”
Fairbanks is 4-4-0-0 on the trip that included respective losses of 5-1 and 3-0 to the Johnstown Tomahawks in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on Dec. 30 and 31. The Ice Dogs started the trip with a split against the New Jersey Titans in Middletown, New Jersey on Dec. 9 and 10, and swept the Northeast Generals in Attleboro, Massachusetts on Dec. 15-17 before going on a week-long break for Christmas.
The East-leading Rebels, with two points each from five players, showed quickly Friday that they weren’t rusty from a break since their last game, a 2-1 home loss to New Jersey on Dec. 18.
Brennan Kapcheck, with assists from Evgeny Yakovlev and Gianluca Esteves, produced the series’ first goal at 41 seconds into the opening period. Drew Blackmun made it 2-0 at 2:25 of the first period Friday with help from Dom Garcia and Kapcheck.
After a scoreless second period, Esteves revived the Rebels at 13:20 of the third period, aided by Yakovlev and Aaron Maguyon.
Andrew Bellant, with his team-high 17th goal of the season, deposited the puck into an empty net with 58 seconds left in the game. Blackmun and Ryan Solomon provided the assists.
Leavy registered his second shutout of the season for the Rebels, who are 25-5-1-0 for 51 points. Aston is tied with the South Division’s Lone Star (Texas) Brahmas for the league’s second-highest points in the standings.
The Ice Dogs and Rebels each were 0 for 2 on power plays and had three penalties for six minutes.
After today’s contest, the Ice Dogs wrap up the trip against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights in Pittston, Pennsylvania on Jan. 14 and 15. The series opener starts at 3:30 p.m. AKST and the last game of the series, and the trip, is set for 8:30 a.m. AKST.
The Ice Dogs return home to the Big Dipper Ice Arena for a series against Northeast on Jan. 19-21. The first game of the homestand starts at 7 p.m. and the last two games each begin at 7:30 p.m.
Contact sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: @newsminersports.