The Fairbanks Ice Dogs played with a sense of urgency against the Amarillo Bulls in Saturday night’s finale of a North American Hockey League series in Amarillo, Texas.
The Ice Dogs swept the series with a 4-3 victory in overtime after Fairbanks trailed 3-2 until the waning seconds of the third period in the Budweiser Bull Pen. Even after Luke Ciolli tied the game at 3 in the third period, there was less than a minute left in overtime when Adam Eisele delivered the game-winner.
“It was good to see that resiliency and resolve from our guys; it’s something we need to be a lot better at,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said by phone. “I thought for a large majority of the game we didn’t have that intensity that we had in the last three minutes (of the third period), when we were trying to tie it up and at least get a point.”
NAHL teams earn two points in the standings with a win in regulation, a 4-on-4 overtime or a shootout. Each team gets a point in the standings if a Game 4 is tied at the end of the third period.
Ciolli skated from behind the Ice Dogs’ net in the defensive zone to set up the game-winner with 37 seconds left in the five-minute overtime.
“Eisele was just kind of skating up the ice with Ciolli and he turned on the jets and beat his guy to the net,” Stewart said. “Ciolli just made a crossing pass to Eisele, who just deflected it into the upper corner (of the net).”
Ciolli made it 3-3 with 13 seconds left in the third period, courtesy of assists from Jack Johnston and Matt Koethe.
Goaltender Matias Sholl recorded 30 saves Saturday for the Ice Dogs, who moved into second place with a 9-4-0-1 record for 19 points in the standings.
“He was really good this weekend; probably our best player and we put him in some awkward situations,” Stewart said. “That happens when you’re playing against a good team.
“He was a rock and he maybe wanted one back but he made a lot of really nice saves for us.”
Jonathan Young scored twice and Charlie Rockner registered 18 saves for the Bulls, who improved their fifth-place record in the South Division to 8-4-1-1 for 18 points.
The teams traded goals to tie the first period at 2.
Fairbanks’ Tyler Deweese scored the game’s first goal at 2:15 of the opening period off assists from Laker Aldrige and Eisele. Young found the back of the net at 5:03 with help from Bulls teammates Nick Trela and Nick Stapleton.
Jordan Venegoni, with help from Lauri Sertti, put Amarillo ahead 2-1 at 8:30. Aldridge’s power-play goal, aided by Johnston and Ciolli, tied the period at 2 at 14:30.
Young’s power-play goal at 4:41 of the second period moved the Bulls in front 3-2. Matt Allen and Sertti had the assists.
The Ice Dogs visit the New Mexico Wolves, an NAHL expansion franchise which also plays in the South Division, on Friday and Saturday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Friday’s contest begins at 4:30 p.m. AKDT and Satuday’s game is slated for 4 p.m. AKDT.
Each game can be seen in Fairbanks at the Finish Line Restaurant in the LaQuinta Inn and Suites by Wyndham, 4920 Dale Road off Airport Way.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: @newsminersports.