The Fairbanks Ice Dogs’ season opener had an entire seasons worth of action rolled into three periods.
A large deficit. An epic comeback. Overtime. A shootout. All of it went down in Friday night’s season opening road game agains the Minnesota Magicians.
The game was only missing one thing that would’ve made it perfect: An Ice Dogs victory.
After falling behind early, the Dogs managed to rally, fall behind again, and rally once more. They forced overtime and stayed even through the extra five minutes to force a shootout. In the end, while Fairbanks was able to earn a point in the standings in their first game, they weren’t able to start the year off with a win as they fell 4-3.
Oh man, though, what a game it was.
It only took 4:37 for the Magicians to strike first as Samuel Jacobs scored on an assist from Lucas Kanta and Will Schumacher to put Minnesota up 1-0. That lead turned to 2-0 nine minutes later when Gavin Best scored on an assist from Schumacher and Patrick Czarnecki.
The Dogs wouldn’t let the early deficit deter them. First year player and second-round draft pick Dakota Macintosh scored 4:29 into the second period on an assist from veteran Zachary Murray to shave the deficit in half. That’s the only scoring either team would do until the third period.
Once the third period came around, however, it only took 1:44 for the Dogs to tie the game up. This time, Murray was the one doing the scoring and he did it unassisted and shorthanded to knot things up at two all.
Six minutes later, though, the Magicians reclaimed the lead and momentum with a Jacob Hosszu goal on an assist from Spencer Light to make it 3-2. These new Dogs still know all the old tricks, however, as rookie Alexander Malinowski scored a power play goal on an assist from fellow rookie and Alaska native Camden Shasby to tie things up 3-3 with a little over 10 minutes remaining.
Neither team scored in the final ten minutes and things went to the three-on-three extra period. Neither team could score then either, leading to shootouts where Minnesota ultimately prevailed.
The Magicians were called for two penalties to Fairbanks’ six while both teams were just about even on offense as the Magicians had 32 shots on goal to the Dogs’ 31. The Dogs defense held strong in holding Minnesota without a single power play point in 15 minutes of opportunity. Veteran goalie Kayden Hargreaves picked up right where he left off last season with an outstanding 29 save evening.
The Dogs played Minnesota again Saturday evening. That game ended after press time. Their next game will be on Wednesday as part of the NAHL Showcase. Fairbanks will take on the Nordiques at 8:45 a.m. in a game that can be viewed on HockeyTV.com. The first home game of the season will be Oct. 1.