ERA Cup belongs to the Ice Dogs

FAIRBANKS, AK-It was a game of ups and downs a quick momentum shifts, a real roller coaster of a game but in the end the Ice Dogs were able to make the plays that they couldn't come up with on Friday night. Both teams displayed great defense, forechecking and backchecking but the Ice Dogs would get a hard earned 3-2 win against rival Kenai.

The first period was similar to Friday night in that both teams would see the opponent score a goal and then up the ante with a goal of their own. After Garret Clemment missed a penalty shot for the Ice Dogs, Colton Wolter put the Ice Dogs ahead 1-0 with his breakaway score coming 9:06 into the first period.  The play had to be reviewed as goalie Marcus Zelzer fell on the puck right on the goal line but after his leg shifted the pack past him on the save attempt.

Kenai would answer. At 18:46 the Brown Bears tied the game with a Chris Nuth goal from the left slot.

The second period featured great defense and effort from both teams. The Brown Bears and Ice Dogs had numerous opportunites at goals but players were diving in front of shots, getting back in transition defense, negating odd man rushes and if that failed the goalies finished it off with adept saving skills. The rivals were very contentious with each as well even though there were no fights but there was a lot of pushing and shoving, even a take down after the whistles.

The final period is when the two teams fought for a much needed win.  More than halfway through  the third period Devin Loe put Fairbanks ahead 2-1 with his 26th goal of the season. Loe shot in a turnaround shot after a rebound and Zelzer could not handle the puck in glove and it goes past the goal line again. Then the Brown Bears responded with a quick goal. Just 20 seconds after Loe put one in the net Kenai's Alec Butcher scores with a laser of a shot hitting the right side of the net. Ice Dogs goalie Kevin Aldridge couldn't do anything with that one. 2-2 a tie game. The last time a tie occurred Kenai was ablt to break the tie and go up two scores but this time Fairbanks learned from the previous outing.

Loe and Lawrence Cornellier set up Taylor Munson for what would turn out to be the game winner at the 9:48 mark of the final period. Loe finds Cornellier behind net and Cornellier dishes out a beautiful wrap around pass that Munson one times it home right in front of Zelzer. The Ice Dogs defense thwarted any game tying attempts by Kenai and hold on for 3-2 victory. Cornellier had two assists and Loe finished with a goal and an assist for Fairbanks.

Aldridge made 33 saves on the 35 shots he faced. The Ice Dogs can go for 30 or more shots in a heartbeat but Fairbanks had only 25. A testament that defense played a major part in both game plans for these teams.

The win gave the Ice Dogs the ERA Cup since the Ice Dogs have the tie-breaker in the 8-8 series. This series isn't over. Now Fairbanks will get the week off before the playoffs. Fairbanks will be hosting Keani.