Ice Dogs pile on the goals, Hargraves posts shutout in largest victory of the season

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Published: May. 1, 2021 at 6:23 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Fairbanks Ice Dogs organization did not know until the day before puck drop whether they would be able to host fans at the Big Dipper Ice Arena this weekend against the Chippewa Steel. They ultimately got the green light from the Fairbanks North Star Borough (while sacrificing concessions) and the skaters made sure to give the 1,100 fans a show.

After suffering an overtime loss last weekend at home to the Janesville Jets, the Ice Dogs geared their efforts in practice to out a strong showing in the series-opener with the Steel Friday. And it showed on the ice, as 14 different players collected a point, Kayden Hargraves got the shutout in net and the Ice Dogs beat up the Steal 6-0 in their largest margin of victory this season.

“We had a good week of preparation, everything was leading towards tonight, so to go out and win [like that] it was nice to see our hard work pay off,” said three-year veteran Laker Aldridge, who pocketed two goals in the victory.

“We talked a lot about confidence,” head coach Trevor Stewart added about the week of practice heading into the series. “We know they are fatigued mentally and physically right now so everything was short, trying to keep it fresh for them and guys responded to what we threw at them this week.”

Forward Zachary Murray scored his first Big Dipper goal in the opening period before Austin Becker - who has familiarized himself with that feeling - snuck one five-hole to give the ‘Dogs a 2-0 leader after a first period where Fairbanks outshot Chippewa 17-4. That would tell the story of the game.

“Absolutely and I think it started with us controlling the puck,” said head coach Trevor Stewart of the shot differential. “We were making better decisions and keeping the puck away from our net as much as possible, you know, if we have the puck it is hard for the other team to score.”

Fairbanks allowed just 17 shots - all of which stopped by Hargraves - while on offense they continued to pepper Chippewa goaltender Berk Berkeliev with a total of 38 shots in the contest.

“Honestly none of it happens without them, they made my job very easy, nothing but love for the boys,” said Hargraves, as ‘the boys’ handed him items such as a water cooler and a jar of peanut butter to mess with the rookie goaltender during his interview.

The Denver, Colorado-native earned his 15th win between the pipes this season, and his first at the Big Dipper.

Assistant Captain Jasper Lester scored the lone goal in the second period, while defenseman Evan Junker opened the scoring in the third.

The Ice Dogs close out their series with Chippewa Saturday, as the look to climb the standings having already claimed a spot in the Robertson Cup Playoffs.

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