FAIRBANKS — Lonnie Clary found the right time to score for the first time for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
The 18-year-old forward from Riverside, Calif., provided a pair of goals in the second period Saturday night to propel a 5-3 win over the Wichita Falls Wildcats for a sweep of the North American Hockey League series in Wichita Falls, Texas.
“He just found himself in the right spots in the second period,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said from Wichita Falls.
Ryan Hogland contributed a goal and two assists and goaltender Kevin Aldridge recorded 23 saves for the Ice Dogs, who found themselves in first place in the West Division at 18-6-0 following their weekend at the Kay Yeager Coliseum in Wichita Falls. The Ice Dogs started the series with a 2-1 win Friday night.
Fairbanks began Saturday’s contest with a 2-0 lead in less than two minutes into the game.
Duggie Lagrone scored at 25 seconds into the night with Hogland’s first assist. Lagrone and Garrett Clemment combined to help Patrick Newell score the go-ahead goal at 1:52.
The Wildcats, in fifth place in the South Division (9-15-2), rallied for the tie with Conor O’Neil’s goal at 9:17 and Bryan McFarlane’s marker exactly 2 minutes, 1 second later.
The rally was a wake-up call for the Ice Dogs during the first intermission.
“We came out strong and kind of fizzled toward the end of the first period,” Stewart said. “It was a matter of regrouping and refocusing after the first period.”
Clary, with Hogland’s feed, scored on a partial breakaway, at 6:52 of the second period for a 3-2 Fairbanks lead.
The Wildcats’ Ben Kucera made it 3-3 at 11:30, aided by Colin Staub and Robson Cramer’s second assist of the game.
Clary delivered the game-winner at 14:22, taking Lagrone’s pass and redirecting it through the pads of Wichita Falls netminder Evan Cowley (26 saves). Hogland had his second assist on the play.
Clary returned the favor in the third period, setting up Hogland’s insurance goal at the 13:32 mark.
Clary came into Saturday’s game with two assists this season in his first 23 games for the Ice Dogs.
The Ice Dogs return to Alaska to face the Kenai River Brown Bears on Friday and Saturday nights at the Soldotna Sports Center.
The Ice Dogs and Brown Bears are playing 16 times this season as part of the inaugural ERA Alaska Cup.
They’re also set for a series Dec. 14-15 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, starting at 7:30 each night.
The Ice Dogs and Brown Bears split in their first series of the season on Nov. 9-10 at the Dipper. Kenai River won the opener 3-2 and Fairbanks rebounded for at 5-2 win the next night.
Kenai River holds third place in the West Division at 10-10-4 following Saturday night’s
3-2 overtime loss to the Corpus Christi IceRays in Texas.
Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7586.