Ice Dogs storm back to earn split

Feb 3, 2019

FAIRBANKS- After losing to 5-2 to the Corpus Christi IceRays Friday night, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs again found themselves in trouble on Saturday, down 2-1 to the IceRays entering the third period.  Five goals later, the Dogs skated off the ice 6-3 victors over their guests from Texas.

Just under three minutes into the third, Luke Mobley, after winning a neutral zone draw, deposited the rebound of a Matt Koethe shot to knot the game at two.  Jake Stella put the visitors back on top four minutes later, redirecting the puck past Nate Reid for a 3-2 lead.  However, it was a lead that did not last long.

It took recently named Ice Dogs Captain Grant Ledford just 32 seconds to show why he has that “C” on his sweater.  Noah Wilson moved the puck from the end boards up to center ice, where Tanner Edwards controlled it and found Ledford on the right wing with speed.  Ledford rushed the zone and snapped a shot from the dot that beat Samuel Vyletelka high glove and tied the game at three.

“I just tried to lead by example,” Ledford said.  “We knew we had energy coming out of the second, and we just did what we needed to do.”

hockey players shaking hands

Jack Johnston and Matt Koethe celebrate after beating the Corpus Christi IceRays 6-3.

Less than two minutes later, the dogs again stretched the puck up the right wing, as Jax Murray received a Jonny Sorenson pass in neutral ice before rushing the zone.  There he found the tape of a crashing Jack Johnston, who one-timed the offering into an open net before sliding, head first, into boards with his team on top 4-3.

“I was just driving wide and he (Murray) made a nice pass that beat a couple D and I was just able to put it in,” Johnston said.  “It feels great to come out with a win and get the job done.”

Johnston’s goal proved to be the game winner, but not the last of the scoring.  Parker Brown scored two minutes later, while Ledford added his second of the night, an empty netter with just over a minute remaining in regulation.  Nate Reid stopped 27 of the 30 shots he faced.  The Dogs peppered Vyletelka with 52 shots.

With the win, the Ice Dogs earn a series split with the IceRays, and maintain their 3-point margin over Janesville for second place in the NAHL Midwest Division, six points back of division the division leading Minnesota Magicians.

“Getting points tonight (Saturday) was huge,” Ledford said. “We need to keep our heads down, work hard this week in practice and be ready to go Friday night.”

The Ice Dogs host the Topeka Pilots next weekend at the Dip, in their last home series until March 8-9.  Alaska Airlines is sponsoring the weekend series that includes the chance for someone in attendance to win a trip for two anywhere Alaska flies.