Friday night on their home ice didn’t go well for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
In a matchup of Top 3 teams in the North American Hockey League’s Midwest Division, the Ice Dogs fell 4-1 to the Chippewa Steel in the opener of the weekend series in the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
Goaltender Matias Sholl had 23 saves in nearly 56 minutes of ice time for the Ice Dogs, who entered the contest in first place but dropped to second place at 13-6-0-1 for 27 points in the standings. The Steel padded its third-place record in the Midwest to 11-6-0-0 for 22 points.
Chippewa goaltender Trent Burnham, who’s from Eagle River, had helped thwart the Ice Dogs by denying 27 saves and backstopping his team to a 4-0 lead after the first two periods. Burnham finished the game with 43 saves.
The Ice Dogs finished with a 45-27 advantage in shots against the visitors from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. However, the host team didn’t find the back of the net until Mason Plante and Fairbanks native Nicholas Ostbloom registered goals in the third period.
Chippewa goaltender Trent Burnham, who’s from Eagle River, had helped thwart the Ice Dogs by denying 27 saves and backstopping his team to a 4-0 lead after the first two periods.
“We had our opportunities, their goalie played pretty well,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said after the game.
“They made some plays but we didn’t, and we found ourselves in an insurmountable hole.”
The Ice Dogs also were assessed 14 penalties for 101 minutes, while the Steel was whistled for nine infractions for 26 minutes. Chippewa’s penalties included a misconduct and Fairbanks’ included two misconducts and a fighting major.
Plante produced Fairbanks’ first goal at 3:25 of the third, taking Adam Eisele’s crossing pass from the slot and sending a shot from the left circle past Burnham into the ceiling of the net. Bret Link also assisted on Plante’s third goal in his first season with the Ice Dogs.
The Ice Dogs pulled Sholl for an extra attacker with about five minutes left in the game. Ostbloom collected Jack Johnston’s centering pass from behind the net and spun in the slot before firing in the puck with 52 seconds left. Tyler Deweese, who also grew up in Fairbanks, had the other assist on Ostbloom’s fourth goal of the season.
“You still have a chance if you chip away and get one early, which we did,” Stewart said of pulling the goalie with about five minutes left.
Forwards Braiden Dorfman and Jacob Dirks spotted the Steel to the 2-0 lead in the opening period of the series.
Dorfman scored on a power play at 6:37 with help from forward Isaac Moberg, while Dirks stretched the lead with an unassisted lead.
Dorfman, aided by Moberg and Killian Kiecker-Olson, got his second goal of the night at 8:57 of the second period. Jacob Halvorson had the eventual win-sealing goal for the Steel at 18:35 of the second, with assists from Jaden Grant and Grisha Gotovets.
The series concludes with today’s game, which starts at 7:30 p.m.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.