FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks Ice Dogs had to put in a little extra effort to gain a split of their two-game series with the Springfield Junior Blues Saturday night at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
The Ice Dogs scored the game-tying goal on a power play midway through the third period, then scored twice in a shootout to beat the Jr. Blues 2-1 in a North American Hockey League contest in front of another packed house.
“It was a good game with both teams battling hard all night,” Ice Dogs coach Trevor Stewart said. “We were in a hole in the third period and had to work extra hard to pull this one out.”
The victory boosted Fairbanks’ record to 26-11-1 on the season and leaves the Ice Dogs three games behind the Wenatchee Wild in the race for the NAHL West Division title.
The Ice Dogs head out onto the road for the next two weeks, playing three games at the fourth-place Fresno Falcons, three in Wenatchee and two at Kenai River, before turning home to host Kenai River on Feb. 15-16.
The Ice Dogs outshot the Jr. Blues 41-22 on the night, but couldn’t get the puck past Springfield goalie Ryan Kallenberger until 10:51 of the third period when Garret Clemment lit the lamp for a power-play goal off assists from Devin Loe and Nick Hinz.
“We cycled it up the half-wall and we got a nice pass to the middle and Garret deflected it in,” Stewart said, noting the Ice Dogs hit six or seven posts in addition to the 40 shots they put on Kallenberger.
After a scoreless overtime session the Ice Dogs won the shootout 2-0 on goals by Jacob Hetz and Jayson Angus, while Fairbanks goalie Steve Perry stopped all four Springfield shooters.
Perry made 21 saves on the night to secure the victory and send the crowd home on a happy night.
“He played well,” Stewart said of his goaltender, who made a verbal commitment to play college hockey at Clarkson last week. “He didn’t see a whole lot of action, when the puck was in our end, he was pretty sharp.”
Springfield won the opening game of the series 6-3 on Friday night.
It looked like the Jr. Blues might do a repeat performance when they took a 1-0 lead at 14:05 of the first period on a goal by Jeff McFarland, assisted by Brett Skibba and Terry Leabo.
Kallenberger was stellar in net stopping everything that came his way until Clemment found the magic touch.
There were only five penalties in the game. Springfield was 0 for 2 on the power play and the Ice Dogs were 1 for 3.