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Ice Dogs snap losing skid with 6-2 win over Bruins

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 5:38 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - After being swept at the hands of the Bismarck Bobcats, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs bounced back against the Austin Bruins with purpose, persistence and power in their 6-2 victory Wednesday at the Red Baron Arena in Marshall, Minnesota.

After a scoreless first period, an opportunistic Bret Link opened up the scoring when he punched in the puck from point-blank range early in the second, his fifth of the year, to make it 1-0 Ice Dogs.

“I am pretty proud of our guys, they played with energy last night,” said head coach Trevor Stewart. “We are happy about the result, obviously, but more so the attitude of our players and their willingness to do what it takes to win.”

Fairbanks stayed aggressive in the second, as Austin Becker flung the puck towards the net, where it got lost between the bodies in front of the net and it was 2-0 ‘Dogs. First-year Ice Dog Jake Hale got in on the action, pocketing a goal with 41 seconds remaining in the second period to break the game open with a three-goal advantage. After two periods, the Ice Dogs only allowed eight total shots on goal, alleviating some pressure on Fairbanks netminder Kayden Hargraves, who had 16 saves in the victory.

“The biggest thing was we didn’t make a ton of mistakes when we had the puck on our stick, so our defense was by offense,” Stewart added. “We didn’t allow Austin to really establish much based on us having the puck on our stick, forechecking, being able to hem them in their zone for extended periods of time and that is what we are going to have to continue to do moving forward to have success.”

Early in the third, rookie Scott McKenzie fed the puck between a Austin defenseman’s legs, finding a streaking Brendan Murphy who finished off the pass with a shorthanded goal to take complete control of the game. The Bruins expressed some form of life when Peter Jacobs broke their scoring drought with 18:10 to go in the third period. Becker lit the lamp a second time off of the stick of Tyler Herzberg, before the Bruins scored once again for the fourth goal in under five minutes to start the third. Marshall-native Mason Plante put on for his hometown by scoring a late empty netter to help snap a four-game losing streak.

This was Fairbanks’ sixth game in their home-away-from-home of Marshall, the city that made the Ice Dogs’ season possible.

“It is a beautiful facility, the town has been nothing but fantastic to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, to our organization and to the city of Fairbanks. There are 150 fans in there, which is all that is allowed, but they are in to it, it feels like a Fairbanks crowd minus 2,000 people,” said Stewart with a laugh. “It is a pretty special place, we couldn’t be more grateful. Obviously we are super excited to hopefully get back to Fairbanks here soon, but the season would not have happened without the facility, the people of Marshall and the city of Marshall.”

The Ice Dogs are in the middle of five games in eight days, which Stewart agreed is better than playing zero games in 243 days, as they experienced during the extended offseason. Fairbanks will now travel to Austin, Minnesota to face the Bruins for a two-game series beginning Friday.

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