FAIRBANKS—Patrick Newell is just 12 games into his junior hockey career and he’s already become a go-to guy for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
The 16-year-old forward from Thousand Oaks, Calif., scored his second straight game-winning shootout goal Thursday night as the Ice Dogs slipped past the Fresno Monsters 4-3 to move within one point of the North American Hockey League West Division lead.
After playing to a 3-3 tie through 60 minutes of regulation hockey and five minutes of overtime, the first nine shooters — five Monsters and four Ice Dogs — failed to convert on their one-on-one chance with the opposing goaltender.
Then Newell stepped up and drilled a shot over Fresno goalie Macauley Haigt’s right shoulder, sending what was left of the 1,842 fans at the Big Dipper Ice Arena into a frenzy as the Dogs piled onto the ice to celebrate.
“I’ve had some good luck in the two shootouts,” the 5-foot-9, 150-pound Newell said outside the Ice Dogs locker room. “My teammates have really helped me out.”
Newell said he was confident his move would work on Haight.
“Once I saw him backing up, I made a hard move and shot it as hard as I could,” Newell said. “Fortunately, it worked.”
Ice Dogs coach Trevor Stewart said he was confidence in the youngest player on this year’s Ice Dogs’ squad.
“He’s a skilled hockey player and that’s why he is up here,” Stewart said. “He’s good at them (shootouts) in practice, so I’m confident he can go out there and do the job.”
The victory boosted the Ice Dogs to 9-3 on the season, putting them one point behind the Wenatchee Wild, who suffered a 7-5 loss to the Kenai River Brown Bears Thursday night in Soldotna.
The Ice Dogs and Monsters resume their three-game series at 7:30 tonight at the Dipper. The series finale is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Stewart said the Ice Dogs could have played better Thursday evening.
“I thought Fresno played tough and we were very fortunate to win,” Stewart said. “Coming off that series with Wenatchee last weekend, I thought we were missing some of the intensity and passion we need to play with.”
The game started out like it was going to be a high-scoring affair as each team scored twice in the first period.
Fresno opened the scoring when Mikhail Bushinski scored on a short-handed breakaway less than five minutes into the game.
The Ice Dogs scored twice in the span of 16 seconds to take a 2-1 lead. Garret Clemment found the back of the net at the 8:44 mark off assists from Kyle Lee and Zack Rall. Just 16 seconds later Duggie Lagrone put the Ice Dogs in front with helpers from Lonnie Clary and Ryan McNeely.
Fresno knotted things up at 2-2 when Sean Kalbak slipped the puck past Ice Dogs goalie Steve Perry at the 14:50 mark.
Jacob Hetz scored the lone goal of the third period on a wraparound goal at the 13:22 mark. Assists went to Colton Wolter and Logan Wendling.
Mitchell Snyder got Fresno even at 13:50 of the third period with a power-play goal.
Haigt had a big night in goal for the Monsters, stopping 33 of the 36 shots coming his way. Perry made 20 saves to get the win.
There were only three penalties in the game, two on the Ice Dogs and one on Fresno.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.