Ice Dogs

Fairbanks Ice Dogs players during practice on Wednesday in advance of the season "home" opener in Marshall, Minnesota. Courtesy Fairbanks Ice Dogs

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs beat the Austin Bruins 5-4 at the Red Baron Arena in Marshall, Minnesota Thursday night.

Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said that he was looking for his team to start stringing some wins together after an up-and-down two-game series against the Bismarck Bobcats last week.

The Ice Dogs have a prime opportunity to break off a chunk of wins with six games in a row on their ostensible home ice in the Lower 48, the first set of home for the team this season. It’s an unusual position to be in for a team that would have normally played half their regular season schedule by the middle of January.

The homestand began last night with an unfamiliar opponent in the Austin, Minnesota Bruins.

“It’s completely kind of new for both teams, we haven’t played each other in a number of years,” Stewart said of the matchup.

Ice Dogs forwards Mason Plante and Jake Hale scored within one-minute of each other at 9:42 and 10:19 in the first period to put the Ice Dogs in the driver’s seat off of assists from Jasper Lester and Jack Ring.

Andrew Garby kept things going in the second period for the Ice Dogs, scoring on the power play at 4:24 off an assist from Jacob Conrad.

Five minutes later Lester got to two points on the night when he turned scorer at the 9:38 mark off an assist from Billy Renfrow with the Ice Dogs capitalizing on the power play yet again.

Barrett Brooks scored for the Bruins at 15:59 in the second. If Brooks chipping away at the four goal lead gave Ice Dogs players flashbacks to the three goal collapse last week against Bismarck, they shook off any hesitation quickly.

Brendan Miles needed no assist to score at the 4:13 mark in the third and put the Ice Dogs four goals to the good again.

Austin’s Reginald Millette scored on a power play at 5:53 in the third to give the Bruins a shot at a comeback and Jens Richards found the net at the 16:22 mark, shrinking the Fairbanks lead to two goals.

Austin’s Connor Mylymok scored another just nine-seconds later to make the score 5-4 and bring the final result suddenly and starkly into question. However, that was all she wrote on the scoresheet and the win takes Fairbanks to a 6-6 record on the season.

Even with the final result going their way, the flurry of final period goals from the Bruins likely left a sour taste for the Ice Dogs, as they ended the game holding onto a narrow lead instead of cruising to a dominant victory; it certainly didn’t quite align with what Stewart was hoping to see from his team.

“We need to play an entire game,” Stewart said before the game, adding that he’s seen his skaters play at a really high level this season, “It’s just a matter of consistently being at that level.”

The Ice Dogs homestand rolls on this evening and Saturday with 7:30 p.m. CST games against the Aberdeen Wings. Stewart said the games are an important test for his team as Aberdeen currently owns the best record in the NAHL at 19-1 and they’ve beaten the Ice Dogs twice already this season.

Contact staff writer Sam Ferrara at 459-7575.