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Ice Dogs take two of three from Magicians

Fairbanks regains Midwest division lead
Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 8:03 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In the Fairbanks Ice Dogs final three-game series of the season, the Minnesota Magicians traveled to the Big Dipper Ice Arena. Thursday night was the only game decided in regulation.

Each team scored a goal in every period, but Alexander Malinowski’s three unanswered, unassisted goals gave Fairbanks the boost they needed to win the opening game of the series. Malinowski has been among the top point scorers of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) virtually all season long, but the Swedish forward completed his first hat trick of the season.

Cameron Ricotta (two goals) and Jack Ring (goal, assist) were the other Thursday night multi-point scorers in Fairbanks’s seven to four victory, but Minnesota did not play the remainder of the weekend with the same tone as opening night.

Kevin Marx Noren scored sixty-eight seconds after the puck dropped in the first period Friday night. Jake Hale did the same thing to start the second period, off the opening faceoff and it only took seven seconds into the middle frame for Hale to push the Ice Dogs lead to two.

Minnesota had some magic up their sleeves rattling off three unanswered goals, claiming their first lead of the weekend, but who other than Alexander Malinowski to have the equalizer.

In the three-on-three overtime period, no goals were scored, so Fairbanks and Minnesota headed to a shootout to decide who would be declared the winner. Both Gavin Best (MNM) and Malinowski (FAI) missed in the first round of the shootout. Hunter Longhi though would score the only shootout goal of the night for the Magicians in the second round, and Minnesota took Friday night’s shootout victory, four to three.

With the series knotted up at one a piece, the teams hit the ice one more time Saturday night at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, and the game flow was nearly identical to the night before. Malinowski had the first two goals of the game, and Noah Griswold scored his third goal of the season to give the Ice Dogs the three to nothing lead at the second intermission.

Even though it took until the third period, the Magicians, Hunter Longhi, broke Kayden Hargraves’s shutout. Thirty-five seconds later, Jon Bell closed the Fairbanks lead to one, and William Svenddal tied the game at three’s with 2:39 left in regulation.

Just like Friday, no one was able to score in the three-on-three overtime. Gavin Best (MNM) and Alexander Malinowski (FAI) each missing their first-round shootout attempts. Hunter Longhi would score his second straight shootout goal in back-to-back days, but Kevin Marx Noren wasn’t going to be shutdown by Magician goaltender, Josh Seeley, in consecutive nights, giving his team the chance to keep the shootout going.

Rounds three through eight saw nothing get past either Kayden Hargraves (FAI) or Josh Seeley (MNM). It took until round nine for Brady Welsch to put an end to the ongoing shootout. Saturday’s game held the same score, but Fairbanks would go on to take game three, four to three. Listed below is the nine round shootout and results.

Minnesota MagiciansGoalRoundFairbanks Ice DogsGoal
Gavin BestNo1Alexander MalinowskiNo
Hunter LonghiYes2Kevin Marx NorenYes
Trevor KukkonenNo3Cameron RicottaNo
Lucas KantaNo4Billy RenfrewNo
Cole SchneiderNo5Braden LindstromNo
Connor MahonyNo6Jack RingNo
Jon BellNo7Jake HaleNo
Chris KernanNo8Noah GriswoldNo
Danill DolzhenkoNo9Brady WelschYes

“I mean, it felt good,” said Brady Welsch after ending Saturday’s game. “Our goalie, Kayden Hargraves, we have to give him all the credit. He gave so many guys on our team a chance to end the game. When they said I was going, I was just like, alright. Just telling myself one shot. I can end it and luckily it worked out. So, felt good.”

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs took five of the six possible points from the series, and with that result, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs reclaim the top spot in the division. Springfield though, is right behind them, trailing by only two points. The Jr. Blues also have four games in hand (more games left to play than Fairbanks). Only time will tell if the Ice Dogs can hold this number one spot through the end of the regular season.

Alexander Malinowski was clearly the highlight of the weekend for Fairbanks. Thirteen skaters recorded points during the three games, but Malinowski clearly led those scorers totaling six points (six goals, zero assists). The next closest to Malinowski was captain, Jack Ring, who had three (goal, two assists).

Looking at the remainder of the Ice Dogs regular season schedule though, there might be some added help along the way. All twelve of the remaining games for Fairbanks will take place in Alaska (Anchorage, Kenai River or Fairbanks). Even though all they all won’t take place at the Big Dipper Ice Area, the Ice Dogs will not face the grueling travel task of going to the Midwest.

The remaining schedule for the Ice Dogs is: Anchorage Wolverines (6), Kenai River Brown Bears (4), and Chippewa Steel (2). The Ice Dogs have a bye weekend this weekend, but will be on the road for back-to-back weekends against Anchorage and Kenai River.

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