FAIRBANKS—When it came time for a shootout Friday night at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, Fairbanks Ice Dogs coach Trevor Stewart didn’t turn to his big guns.
“I just went with my gut feelings,” Stewart said after the Ice Dogs pulled out a *5-4 North American Hockey League shootout win against the Corpus Christi Ice Rays in front of a sold out crowd at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
“I wanted to reward the guys who had good games,” Stewart said.
Jacob Hetz was one of the those chosen for the five-man shootout and he delivered the only goal on the Ice Dogs’ third attempt, and Fairbanks goalie Kevin Aldridge stopped all five Ice Rays shooters to preserve the win.
“I was kind of shocked when he told me, but happy about getting the chance,” Hetz said as he mingled with Ice Dogs fans in the Big Dipper lobby following the game.
“Coach told me to pump fake and read off that,” Hetz said of what turned out to be the game-winner. “Once I was on the ice, the only thing I was thinking about was scoring the goal.”
Hetz’s goal enabled the Ice Dogs (12-3-0) remain one point behind the Wenatchee Wild (12-2-1) in the NAHL West Division standings. Wenatchee skated to a 3-1 win against Minot Friday night in Wenatchee, Wash.
The Ice Dogs and Ice Rays, of Texas, wrap up their two-game series at 7:30 tonight at the Big Dipper.
Friday night’s series opener was a wide open affair with both teams putting plenty of shots on net. Corpus Christi wound up with 38 shots on goal and the Ice Dogs had 34.
“I thought we were a little rusty at the start, but we got better as the game went on,” Stewart said.
Four different Ice Dogs — Duggie Lagrone, Jayson Angus, Devin Loe and Chandler Madry — scored goals for the Ice Dogs. Loe also had a pair of assists, while Angus, Colton Wolter, Zack Rall, Nick Hinz, Lonnie Clary and Brett Gervais each had a helper.
For Angus, it was his first goal of the season. He scored a power-play goal at 19:27 of the second period to tie the game at 2-2.
“He had a great game tonight and was rewarded for his efforts,” Stewart said.
Corpus Christi also had four different players score goals — Brandon Smith, AJ Jarosz, Tommaso Bucci and Brandon Berkley. Eight different Ice Rays had assists.
Loe, who assisted on Fairbanks first two goals, gave the Ice Dogs a 3-2 lead just 27 seconds into the third period.
Bucci answered for the Ice Rays about three minutes later and the score remained tied until the 13:50 mark, when Madry found the back of the net with assists going to Clary and Gervais.
The Rays forced overtime at the 16:31 mark when Berkley got behind the Ice Dogs defense and put a nifty cross-ice pass into a wide open net.
Corpus Christi was on the power play for the final three minutes of regulation and the first minute of overtime, but the Ice Dogs’ defense and goaltender Aldridge came up with some big plays to keep the score tied at 4-4.
Aldridge finished the night with 34 saves, while Ice Rays goaltender Hayden Stewart registered 29 saves.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.