There was plenty of extra space on the score sheet Friday night as the Fairbanks Ice Dogs lost 2-0 to the Aberdeen Wings in Minnesota.
Aberdeen defenseman Jakob Stender scored at 16:16 in the first period, assisted by Nico DeVita and Payton Matsui. Forward Natan Vertes scored unassisted to hammer the win home for the Wings at 18:29 in the third period.
The game takes the Wings to 20-1 on the season and drops the Ice Dogs to 6-7.
A strong defensive effort on Thursday night carried over to Friday in some ways for the Ice Dogs. Ice Dogs goalie Ryan Keyes faced 16 shots on the night, while his team sent 21 shots the way of Aberdeen goalie Jake Sibell.
Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said after the Thursday game against the Austin Bruins that it was one of the better defensive efforts he’s seen from his team so far this season.
“I thought our defense was better and was mostly derived from our decision making. We didn’t put ourselves in a situation where our goalies were facing as many shots. We were clean with our zone exits and limited turnovers going into our offensive zone,” Stewart said.
Whether or not that kind of defensive proficiency could be carried over to a contest against a team that owns the best record in the NAHL was the question Friday night.
“We’re gonna need to be ready. It’s a tall task, but we feel we’re much improved since the last time we played them and we’re excited to see where we are compared to them,” Stewart said about the two games this weekend against Aberdeen.
The problem Friday proved to be on the attacking side as the Ice Dogs couldn’t find a way to get the puck past Sibell. Sibell entered the game leading the league in wins (16) and shutouts (6).
The Ice Dogs and Wings are set to run it back and face off again tonight.