WICHITA FALLS, TEXAS — Special teams came through for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Friday in a victory over the Wichita Falls Wildcats and before the largest crowd the visitors have faced this season in a North American Hockey League game.
The Ice Dogs, aided by two power-play goals and one short-handed deposit, downed the Wildcats 4-2 before a Military Appreciation Night crowd of 3,148 in the Kay Yeager Coliseum in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Sheppard Air Force Base is locate about five miles north of Wichita Falls, which also is about 50 miles south of Fort Sill, Okla.
“It was a good buzz in the building,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said by cellphone. “Hats off to everyone who showed up. Just like us in Fairbanks, they have great support for the military. We truly appreciate it and it was nice to see it another building.”
Stewart also enjoyed seeing the Ice Dogs succeed on special teams, which helped the Ice Dogs raise their first-place record in the Midwest Division to 30-12-0. It also was Fairbanks’ third win in a row and its sixth in its last seven games.
Ethan Somoza scored on a power play for the only score of the first period. Chandler Madry scored the eventual game-winner on a power play in the third period, where Brett Gervais provided a short-handed marker and scored into an empty net.
“We had not been good at special teams and I told the guys that we’re going to wipe the slate clean (Friday),” Stewart said. “By all means, they were not great executed plays; but we got some fortunate bounces and the guys were working hard to get those bounces.”
Somoza planted his goal at 2:21 into the game, aided by Lonnie Clary’s first assist of the night and a helper from Nick Hinz.
Kyle Bauman, with Kirk Van Arkel’s help, made it 1-1 for Wichita Falls at 5:17 of the second period. Gervais responded with a short-handed tally at 3:36 into the third with assists from Ben Campbell and Doug Rose, who helped on all three Ice Dogs goals in the period.
“It wasn’t Doug’s best game, but he showed up and worked hard, and he was able to set up a couple of plays,” Stewartr said.
Rose and Campbell each got their second assists at 13:09 of the third, helping Madry put the Ice Dogs ahead 3-1.
Gervais close the win with 46 seconds left, placing the puck into an empty net off of helpers by Clary and Rose.
Nick Farmer, with an assist from Rudy Junda, scored at 14:38 of the third for the Wildcats, who are in fourth place in the South Division at 21-15-0.
Ice Dogs goaltender Kevin Aldridge improved his season mark to 21-9-0 after stopping 21 shots Friday.
David Zevnik had 19 saves for the Wildcats, who play host to the Ice Dogs again at 4:05 p.m. AST today.
Contact sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586 or follow him on Twitter: @newsminersports.