The Fairbanks-Anchorage hockey rivalry is on again. This time it’s at the Junior A North American Hockey League level.
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Anchorage Wolverines served notice that they’re ready to establish a new rivalry that actually dates back for decades after splitting a two-game North American Hockey League series in Anchorage on Friday and Saturday.
The Ice Dogs captured the opening game of the series 3-1 at Ben Boeke Arena in Anchorage Friday, but the Wolverines came back to claim a 4-2 win on Saturday to earn a split of the two-game series and serve notice they will be a team to be reckoned with this season.
The series shifts to Fairbanks this weekend for 7:30 p.m. games Friday and Saturday at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
Trailing 3-1 late in the third period Saturday night, the Ice Dogs pulled goalie Kayden Hargraves in favor of an extra attacker and made the score 3-2 on a goal by captain Jack Ring with 43 seconds remaining, but Anchorage managed to get an empty-net goal with 10 seconds left to seal the verdict.
“We played well for the most part, but couldn’t capitalize on our chances and Anchorage took advantage of the major mistakes that we made,” Ice Dogs coach Trevor Stewart said via cell phone following the game.
“We battled back to get that late goal, but then the puck hopped over one of our guys sticks and they managed to get the empty-net goal,” Stewart added.
Stewart said the Ice Dogs have a few things to work on before the two teams meet again this weekend in Fairbanks.
“We just need to be more consistent in our approach to each game and each shift for that matter and if we can do that we have a chance to be a very good hockey team,” he said.
Anchorage jumped off to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Joey Moffatt at 8:15 of the first period, but the Ice Dogs tied it up three seconds before intermission when Brendan Miles scored his third goal of the year off assists from Owen Neuharth and Jacob Conrad.
The Wolverines took the lead for good on an unassisted goal by Bohdan Panasenko at 14:10 of the second period. Talon Sigurdson scored what proved to be the game-winning goal at 7:55 of the third. It was his league-leading 18th goal of the year. Jackson Reineke accounted for Anchorage’s final goal.
The loss dropped the Ice Dogs into second place in the NAHL Midwest Division standings, two points behind the division leading Spriingfield Jr. Blues. Anchorage is in a tie for third place with the Minnesota Wilderness, two points behind the Ice Dogs.