The Fairbanks Ice Dogs had the territorial advantage Saturday night, but the Janesville Jets had the Midas touch.
The Ice Dogs outshot the Jets 39-19 during the North American Hockey League game at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, but the Jets, of Janesville, Wisconsin, came through when it counted and skated to a 4-2 victory in the two-game series finale.
The Ice Dogs earned a 4-1 victory in Friday night’s series opener, but Fairbanks saw its seven-game unbeaten streak against Midwest Division rivals come to an end on Saturday night.
“They wanted it more than we did,” Ice Dogs coach Trevor Stewart said after his squad fell to 7-4-0-1 on the season and 6-1-0-1 against division opponents.
Fairbanks heads into a two-week road trip in third place in the Midwest Division, two points behind the second-place Kenai River Brown Bears and one point behind the first-place Chippewa Steel, of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
“I thought their goalie (Grant Riley) played extremely well,” Stewart said. “We had our opportunities but couldn’t make two plays in a row. We just didn’t play hard enough and smart enough to win this game.”
Riley, who improved to 4-5-0-0 in net for the Jets, made 37 saves on the night, stopping the puck several times in wild scrambles in front of the net.
“Our goalie played well and we needed a little bit of puck luck and got it tonight,” said Janesville coach Corey Leiverman.
“The big difference for us tonight was that we played as a team and fought hard,” Leiverman said. “This was the first trip to Alaska for a lot of our guys and we wanted to find a way to win one game in each building and we accomplished that.”
The Jets, who improved to 5-8-0-0 on the season, split a two-game series at the Kenai River Brown Bears last weekend in Soldotna.
Things started well enough for the Ice Dogs on Saturday, as Luke Ciolli scored his fourth goal of the season when he backhanded the puck between Riley’s pads for at 14:07 of the first period, with assists going to Matt Koethe and Jack Johnston.
The only Ice Dogs lead of the night lasted for just 55 seconds.
Luke Wheeler pulled the Jets even at the 15:02 mark of the first stanza when he converted on a 3-on-2 break, beating Ice Dogs goalie Mattias Sholl after some nifty passing between Nick Nardella and Isaac Novak.
The Jets took their first lead 29 seconds into the second period when Athony Szurlej scored his first goal of the season with a slap shot from the top of the right faceoff circle that beat Sholl on the glove side. Assists went to Nardella and Ryan Bottrill.
Tyler Deweese’s third goal of the season at 7:27 of the second, with assists from Ice Dogs teammates Laker Aldridge and Oliver Kjaer, knotted the score at 2 but the score didn’t stay tied for long.
Nardella gave the Jets the lead for good when he found the back of the net 57 seconds later off assists from Novak and Justin Engelkes.
Carter Hottmann picked up his first goal of the season at 18:36 of the second to give the Jets a two-goal lead they maintained for the rest of the game.
The Jets had the only penalty of the game in the third period, but the Ice Dogs failed to convert on the power play.
Stewart pulled Sholl from the net with 3:09 left in the contest, but the Ice Dogs couldn’t find the back of the net with the extra attacker on the ice.
The Ice Dogs return to action on Friday and Saturday with games at the Amarillo (Texas) Bulls and they stay on the road for two games against the expansion New Mexico Ice Wolves on Nov. 1-2 in Albuquerque.
Fairbanks returns to the friendly confines of the Big Dipper Ice Arena for a three-game division series against the Springfield Jr. Blues, starting on Nov. 7.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7586.