Fairbanks Ice Dogs take 2-0 lead on Wilderness to open 2022 Robertson Cup Playoffs

Series will conclude in Cloquet, Minnesota
Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 1:03 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Fairbanks Ice Dogs began the 2022 Robertson Cup playoffs with a best of five series against the Minnesota Wilderness. Games one and two were played over the weekend at the Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks.

Friday night, it was Jacob Conrad that scored the first goal of the series coming on the Fairbanks power play. Conrad’s shot came from the blue line that was kicked off the skate of Wilderness defenseman, Bobby Metz resulting in a deflection that could not be stopped by Matthew Smith. That would be the only goal of the first period.

In the second, the Wilderness would score with a minute and twenty six seconds remaining to tie the game at ones thanks to Cole Crusberg-Roseen. The Wilderness also got the first goal of the third period from William Persson. putting them up by one goal.

The Ice Dogs were forced to pull goaltender, Kayden Hargraves, for the extra attacker. Tyler Stewart tied the game with 27.8 seconds left on the clock to tie the game 2-2. “I saw the puck got dumped in around the corner, and Malinowski dumped it low to Ricotta,” said Stewart accounting the setup of his goal. “I just went to the net. It’s where you score goals. I just put my stick down and wished for the best.”

In the overtime period, Ice Dogs defenseman, Tristan Sarsland, would head to the penalty box for a minor, boarding penalty, giving the Wilderness a huge advantage just forty four seconds into overtime. On the penalty kill, the Ice Dogs managed to break out a three on one shorthanded rush. A perfect zone entry was complimented by crisp passing from Alexander Malinowski to Brendan Miles who buried the game winning goal just over two minutes into the extra period.

“Obviously on the P.K. (penalty kill) there at the end, we had a deep defenseman, Conrad, chipped it out. We had a three on one on the P.K. which is not something you see everyday,” said Miles. “I saw Malinowski get the puck and I figured I might as well join the rush. I actually passed it to him thinking he was going to shoot it, but then he gave it back to me. It was good... a good feeling for sure.”

Jacob Conrad (goal, assist) and Alexander Malinowski (two assists) were the only Ice Dogs with multiple points in the 3-2 Ice Dogs game one overtime win. Kayden Hargraves got the start in net for Fairbanks and stopped thirty five of the thirty seven shots he saw from the Wilderness. Minnesota out shot Fairbanks by fifteen, 37-22 Friday night.

Saturday night, the Ice Dogs and Wilderness were back at the Big Dipper looking for another win to extend their series lead to two, but they made sure it wasn’t nearly as close as Friday night.

The Minnesota Wilderness went to the sin bin five times in the first period, and the trio of Kevin Marx Noren, Tristan Sarsland, and Jake Hale capitalized on three of those five special teams opportunities for power play goals. The Ice Dogs would head to the locker room up, 3-0 at the first intermission.

In the second, the scoring festivities would continue for the Dogs. In three and a half minutes, the Ice Dogs put four more goals on the board. Unlike the first period, the goals from Billy Renfrew, Braden Lindstrom, and pair from Jack Ring, were all even strength. The Ice Dogs were clearly commanding the lead, up 7-0 at the second intermission.

“I think that they just understood that they needed to get the puck back,” said head coach, Dave Allison when asked about getting an even strength goal. “They had to make strong puck plays, and they did all those things. They did it; they’re capable of doing it. They did it for each other, and they played hard for one another.”

Kayden Hargraves was one minute and forty two seconds away from a shutout before a shot from Minnesota’s Gunnar Thoreson took the goose egg down from the scoreboard. The Ice Dogs took game two easily, 7-1 the final score. Six Fairbanks skaters recorded a multi-point night, and were led by Jack Ring (two goals, assist) and Jake Hale (goal, two assists) with three points a piece.

With Fairbanks winning the first two games of the series, the Midwest Division semi-final round will conclude in Cloquet, Minnesota at Northwoods Credit Union Arena. Game three will be Friday at 4:15 p.m. (AKST). If a game four is needed, it will be played Saturday at the same time. The same goes for Sunday, but the game would happen earlier in the afternoon at 2:00 p.m. (AKST).

“Hey, we just have to win one game,” said coach Allison on finishing the series on the road. “We just have to go there, and I think they’re understanding that the game is a lot of fun when you play together and share the responsibilities. They believe in and care about each other.”

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