Ice Dogs win Alaska Airlines Cup, secure home ice for first round of playoffs

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 7:39 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The first-ever Alaska Airlines Cup will forever belong to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. The Ice Dogs skated away from the four-game series with the Kenai River Brown Bears with three wins and a shootout loss to claim the cup over the Kenai River Brown Bears, while the newly-established Anchorage Wolverines will join the battle for the Alaska Airlines trophy next season.

The Ice Dogs entered the weekend with not only the Alaska Airlines Cup on the line, but home ice in the first round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs as well.

With a win on Friday and a Minnesota Magicians loss Saturday, Fairbanks locked up both before the puck dropped in game two of their weekend series in Soldotna.

Clinching home ice for the first round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs, the No. 2 seeded ‘Dogs will host the No. 3 seed Minnesota Magicians out of the Midwest Division Friday and Saturday at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, both games at 7:30 p.m. AKDT to begin the best-of-five series.

The same mitigation plans at this weekend’s games will still be in place, with mask and social distancing protocols.. Capacity will be held at 50%, or 1,100 fans, and tickets can only be purchased at the Fairbanks Ice Dogs Office located at 139 32nd Ave. Tickets will be on sale from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

If the series is tied after two games, or the Ice Dogs are down 0-2, game three will be played on Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Big Dipper.

While there wasn’t as much to play for Saturday as anticipated, Fairbanks still came out of the gates with something to prove, scoring two goals within the first two minutes of action off the sticks of Tyler Stewart and Scott McKenzie respectfully. This was McKenzie’s second game in more than two months, returning on Friday from a wrist injury. Stewart added another before the two teams were even half way through the first period, giving the ‘Dogs complete control.

While Kenai was able to get one past Kayden Hargraves, Ty Naaykens responded with his sixth goal of the year to make it 4-1 after 20 minutes. Fairbanks-native Billy Renfrew and defenseman Jasper Lester lit the lame in the second, before Tyler Herzberg closed out the scoring with a goal with under five minutes to go.

The seven goals matches their season-high set on last Saturday, when Fairbanks defeated Kenai by the same score of 7-2.

Hargraves stopped 27 of 29 shots, collecting his 18th win in net.

Fairbanks closes out the regular season 25-19-2-2 for 54 points, second in the Midwest Division behind the Janesville Jets (31-13-4-0, 66 points). The Magicians finished 3rd, with a record of 24-21-3-0 for 51 points after splitting with Janesville this weekend.

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