FAIRBANKS — Saturday’s contest between the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Janesville Jets was a little closer than Friday’s opener of the North American Hockey League series at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
The Ice Dogs, though, didn’t let the visitors from Wisconsin get too comfortable, as Fairbanks rallied to a 3-1 win for the sweep of the non-divisional series.
Ryan McNeely’s goal early in the first period and back-to-back goals from Devin Loe lifted the Ice Dogs on Saturday after they posted a 4-0 win Friday.
Goaltender Steve Perry registered 22 saves for Fairbanks, which improved its second-place record in the West Division to 25-10-1.
Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart noticed a different Janesville squad than the one Fairbanks outshot 30-15 Friday. Janesville outshot the Ice Dogs 23-17 Saturday.
“They picked up where they left off last night and they came at us pretty hard,’’ Stewart said by telephone.
Stewart also saw a difference in Loe, who had one assist on Friday but finished with three points Saturday to added to his team-leading total of 34 points (18 goals and 16 assists in 35 games).
“Devin responded on defense and he had a particularly strong game,’’ Stewart said. “We also liked the way he responded tonight when we put him in some situations where he could be effective on the scoresheet.”
Loe’s efforts Saturday started with an assist of McNeely’s goal at 45 seconds into the game that attracted 2,242 fans.
Jayson Angus had the other assist for his first of two helpers on Saturday that also gave the center five points for the weekend. Angus had a goal and two assists on Friday.
Nick Albergo denied Perry of a shutout and tied the game for Janesville at 2:41 into the first period. Zach Avolio and Brett Bauza had the assists on the only goal of the weekend for the Jets, in sixth place in the North Division at 15-18-6.
“I just think after the first period we went into the lockerroom, we regrouped and came out in the second (period) with more energy,’’ Stewart said.
Loe produced the game-winner at 14:39 of the second period, set up by Angus and Duggie Lagrone. Loe, with assists from Patrick Newell and Kyle Lee, sealed the win with a power-play goal at 1:28 into the third period.
The Ice Dogs return to the Big Dipper at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday to face the Springfield Jr. Blues of Illinois.
The Jr. Blues swept the Kenai River Brown Bears in Soldotna, winning 2-1 Friday and 4-3 Saturday.