Ice Dogs secure victory in ‘home away from home’ debut

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 7:41 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Several months in the making, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs finally made their ‘home’ debut in their sister-city of Marshall, Minnesota Thursday night, hosting the Austin Bruins. Although they have been stationed in Marshall since late October to play out the first portion of their season, the Tier II Junior Hockey program has skated in North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin as they dance with scheduling challenges and Executive Orders.

While Marshall is not the Ice Dogs’ real home, which belongs to the Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks, it is the real home of Fairbanks forward Mason Plante and his cousin Kaleb Welvaert, both Marshall, Minnesota-natives.

The entire Ice Dogs organization was eager to make their first appearance at the Red Baron Arena, but maybe none more eager than Plante, the hometown kid. Charging down the ice, Fairbanks was on a 3-on-2 fast break when Nathan Butler placed the puck in front of Plante’s stick midstride. With no defenders in his sights, Plante dangled and maneuvered the puck past the Bruins’ goaltender to make it 1-0 ‘Dogs. First year forward Jake Hale extended the lead less than 60 game seconds later when he pocketed a goal off a pass from Jack Ring and the Ice Dogs were in control.

At intermission, Ice Dogs General Manager Rob Proffitt relived the Big Dipper Days by four-wheeling onto the ice and tossing out merchandise. The Ice Dogs are scheduled to make their Fairbanks debut March 12 against the Kenai River Brown Bears.

Veteran Andrew Garby got in on the action in the second period when he fired in a power play goal off the stick of Jacob Conrad, Ice Dogs up 3-0. In the same frame, Jasper Lester piled it on with yet another power play goal, this one coming off a helper from Fairbanks-native Billy Renfrew.

While the Ice Dogs seemed to have complete command of the game, the Bruins wouldn’t go away easy. After holding Austin scoreless, Kayden Hargraves had one go past him with 6:01 remaining in the second to trim the deficit to three goals. An insurance goal from defenseman Brendan Miles inflated Fairbanks’ lead once more, but again, the Bruins were not going to lay down flat. Austin took advantage of Fairbanks playing a man down, as Brendan Murphy was in the penalty box for roughing when the Bruins made it a 5-2 game with 16:07 to go in the contest.

The Bruins relentlessly attacked the net, and it paid off with 3:38 to go when they punched in a rebound to slice the lead again, this time to two goals. As things continued to go in Austin’s favor, the Ice Dogs turned the puck over behind the net, where Bruins’ Connor Mylymok scored nine seconds after Jens Richards, and all of the sudden it was 5-4 with 3:29 remaining. In a last-ditch effort, Austin pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, but the Ice Dogs fended off the Bruins to secure the one-goal victory in their first game in Marshall, Minnesota. Hargraves saved 16 of 20 shots sent his way, as the Ice Dogs had five different skaters light the lamp.

With the win, the Ice Dogs improve to .500 on the season at 6-6. After a one-game stint against the Bruins, the Fairbanks will host the red-hot Aberdeen Wings (19-1) at the Red Baron Arena in Marshall for a two-game series beginning Friday.

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