FAIRBANKS- Ice Dogs forward Laker Aldridge took the the Big Dipper ice Friday night sporting a haflie (half shield) for the first time in his junior hockey career. He celebrated on his 18th birthday by scoring back to back goals in the second period, helping propel the Ice Dogs to a 5-4 win over the Chippewa Steel.
“Two rips and we’ll call it a day, I couldn’t be happier,” Aldridge said of the second and third goals of his rookie season. “Just helping the boys win on my birthday, it’s definitely something special, something I’ll cherish for a while.”
Aldridge’s firepower had the Dogs ahead 4-2 entering the third period. Midway through the frame, Grant Reichenbacher took over, scoring twice, with the equalizer coming at 14:39 of the third. A turn over in the Ice Dogs’ zone allowed Brendan Ogle to one-time a loose puck toward the net, which Reichenbacher tipped home to even the game at four.
“You could feel it on the bench, we were struggling,” said Ice Dog Head Coach Trevor Stewart. “They didn’t really have much, other than what we gave them, so it was really deflating.”
“Our mindset was kind of down,” said defenseman John Stampohar, who had scored earlier in the game. “I knew in the back of my mind that we’re not out of this game, and that we could easily get a goal.”
Just over two minutes later, Stampohar delivered. Luke Ciolli drove the puck deep into the Steel zone, creating space on the right point. From the corner, the puck found Stampohar’s tape at the blue line, and a sharp fake to center freed up more ice along the wall, while Ciolli moved to screen down low.
“I made a strong move to the wall, put a shot on net that went in top right,” Stampohar said. “We fought our way through, and that was that.”
The 3-game Stick it to Cancer series culminates Saturday night at 7:30 at the Big Dipper. The weekend has highlighted and honored cancer survivors in our community, while sharing stories of hope from Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and the J. Michael Carroll Cancer Center. On the ice the action has been tight, and at time fierce. Both Tanner Edwards and Hunter Weiss received game misconducts for head butting in the second period. With the series knotted at a game apiece, Saturday’s tilt is sure to be intensified.
“We came into this weekend looking at it as a three game series, it’s tied 1-1 so here’s the rubber match, so there’s no excuse for us to not be prepared” Stewart said.
“It’s plain and simple, we need to win,” Stampohar added.
The Dogs are now 5-3-2 in their last 10 games, and with 45 points hold second place in the NAHL Midwest Division, six points back of the Minnesota Magicians, and three points up on the Janesville Jets. Tickets for Saturday’s game are available at Play it Again Sports, Gene’s Chrysler, Fairbanks Community Museum, Ft. Wainwright ASYMCA, Eielson Community Center, and as always online at fairbanksicedogs.com.