Ice Dogs split with Magicians as they continue the first portion of season on the road
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Fairbanks Ice Dogs, winners of four of their last five contests, have found their groove following the restart to their season. After a three-game sweep over the Janesville Jets in their first action in six weeks, Fairbanks split with the Minnesota Magicians in their second consecutive weekend without interruption. Game one recap can be found here.
A common theme for the Ice Dogs this year; start the game with a lot of energy, tapper off a bit in the second period, before closing games with the same intensity in which they came out of the gates with. This came into play once again on Friday, as the Ice Dogs led in the first period, went scoreless in the second, before a flurry of goals in the third period. Veteran Mason Plante scored his first goal of the season while battling in the trenches, punching in a rebound from pointblank range to put the ‘Dogs on the board first. In the second frame, Minnesota’s Hunter Longhi tied the game, sneaking one past goaltender Kayden Hargraves, who stopped 29 of 30 shots. An avalanche of third period goals for Fairbanks was ignited by Zachary Murray (unassisted), who netted his first goal in an Ice Dogs uniform. Forward Tyler Herzberg, who has been an offensive spark early in the season, scored his third of the year on a fast break opportunity, firing a shot top shelf, above the tender’s shoulder to make it a 3-1 game. An empty netter from Plante (assisted by Austin Becker) and an insurance goal from Brendan Miles (Jasper Lester) was enough for Fairbanks to skate away with a 5-1 victory. After incurring 21 penalty minutes in game one, the Ice Dogs were much more disciplined in game two with zero penalty minutes.
“For sure, that was a big part of [the victory],” said Head Coach Trevor Stewart about the discipline. “That is the way that we are going to have to play. We are going to have to do our physical play with our feet and making sure we are not giving teams time and space and making sure that we are playing between the whistles and not marching off to the box.”
The next test for the Ice Dogs comes Friday, when they begin a two-game series with the Bismarck Bobcats in North Dakota.
Most teams, no matter the sport or level, have some form of motivation that fires them up prior to games and Stewart shared what drives the team every time they hit the ice.
“First and foremost, it’s definitely Luke Ciolli. He’s with us, every game his jersey hanging up in the locker room. We just...we miss him,” said Stewart.
Ciolli, who skated for the Ice Dogs in 2019-20 and was slated to compete this year, underwent brain surgery in October to remove a hard mass from his cerebellum.
“He’s a big part of it and is still is a big part of our organization. That’s on a lot of guys’ mind, so it is definitely a motivating factor. For our guys to understand, ‘I get to play hockey and he has a much bigger battle.’”
Ciolli continues to recover at home while Fairbanks continues the first portion of their season on the road. The Ice Dogs are schedule to make their Fairbanks-debut March 12 at the Big Dipper.
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