For the second night in a row, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs got off to a hot start and a two goal lead.
For the second straight night, they finished on the wrong end of a blowout.
After going up by two early, the Dogs gave up seven unanswered goals resulting in a 7-2 loss to the Minnesota Magicians Saturday night. The loss now pushes the Dogs to the brink of elimination as they trail the opening playoff series 0-2.
The final result was the last thing on anyone’s mind at the end, however. An unidentified player for the Magicians took a scary hit to the head from the Ice Dogs’ Laker Aldridge with 3:51 left in the game that left the player laying on the ice for an extended amount of time. A stretcher was ultimately brought on to remove the player.
After the game, an Ice Dogs official said the belief was that the player had feeling in his arms and legs and was dealing with a suspected concussion. The stretcher was merely a precaution.
“I just hope the kid on the Magicians is okay,” said Fairbanks head coach Trevor Stewart. “It’s unfortunate that the game ended that way.”
The combination of the injury and losing 7-2 on their home ice resulted in a locker room filled with multiple different emotions, according to Stewart.
“It’s a pretty somber mood right now,” he said. “With that injury happening and us not performing the way that we wanted has us feeling a lot of mixed emotions right now. We need to collect our thoughts this evening, regroup, and have a back against the wall mentality tomorrow.”
It was déjà vu from Friday night’s game as the Dogs got off to a great start. Tyler Stewart scored 4:22 into the game on an assist from Brendan Murphy and Mason Plante to put the Dogs up 1-0. A little less than eight minutes later, Bret Link put the puck in the net on an assist from Owen Neuharth and Austin Becker to make it a 2-0 game.
Then, it really was déjà vu as Minnesota got on the board with a goal from Lleyton Reed at the 15:31 mark. The Magicians tied the game two and a half minutes after that on a goal from Mason Hendrickson to make it a 2-2 game after one period.
It only took 27 seconds for the Magicians to score another goal as Simon Falk gave them a quick 3-2 lead. Minnesota added three more goals in the second period and one more in the third as the Dogs couldn’t get the puck in the net again.
With that, the Dogs went into Sunday night’s game at 5 p.m. knowing that it was win or stay home the rest of the playoffs. That game ended after press time.
Contact sports reporter Hart Pisani at 459-7530 or follow him at twitter.com/FDNMSPorts.