A strong start faded into a horrific ending for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs Saturday night in Springfield, Illinois.
The Ice Dogs opened up a three-goal lead, but then gave up seven straight goals in suffering a 7-3 North American Hockey League loss to the Springfield Jr. Blues.
With the win, Springfield (22-9-1-1) moved to within one point of the first-place Ice Dogs (23-11-0-1) in the NAHL Midwest Division standings. The Jr. Blues have played two fewer games than Fairbanks.
Saturday’s loss was the third straight for the Ice Dogs, who are now 2-4-0-0 against the Jr. Blues this season. The two teams have one more series at Springfield in early February.
The Ice Dogs return home for the first time in more than a month this weekend when they host the Kenai River Brown Bears at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
After losing 5-1 on Friday night, the Ice Dogs came out fast and took a 2-0 lead in the first period Saturday night.
Cameron Ricotta got the Ice Dogs on the board at 4:37 of the opening period with his 13th goal of the season off an assist from Sam Berry.
Berry scored a short-handed goal at 13:58 to put Fairbanks ahead 2-0. Captain Jack Ring picked up an assist on the play.
The Ice Dogs made it 3-0 just 4:20 into the second period on a power-play goal by Billy Renfrew with assists going to Alexander Malinowski and Jacob Conrad.
That was the last time the Ice Dogs got the puck past Springfield goalie Aksel Reid, who made 37 saves on the night.
Less than two minutes after Renfrew scored, the Jr. Blues cut the deficit to 3-2 when Joey Dosan and Tristan Shewchuk scored 31 seconds apart.
The Jr. Blues took command of the game scoring four goals in the first 5:40 of the third period. Hagen Moe scored two of those goals, while Connor Smith and Michael Valdez each had one. Zach Bade added an empty net goal to complete the scoring.
Ice Dogs goalie Tyler Krivtsov made 37 saves in taking the loss.
Ice Dogs general manager Rob Proffitt said the team will hold a press conference at noon today (Monday) at the Big Dipper Ice Arena to announce major changes within the organization. The press conference will be live on the Ice Dogs Facebook page.