FAIRBANKS-They say it's not how you start but how you finish. How the Ice Dogs started in Friday night's Roberson Cup semifinal opener ended being the difference by the end of the Ice Dogs 3-1 win over the Michigan Warriors.
Over 2,200 fans filed into the Big Dipper to make their presence felt. The Warriors haven't seen a big NAHL crowd like the ones in Fairbanks and the crowd was in full force as the Ice Dogs attacked.
Michgan goal Trevor Gorsuch came in as the top goalie statistically in the NAHL's final four. His goal allowed average was 0.9, That would change. The Ice Dogs executed the Ps. Passing and Patience on a power play. Brett Gervais gave beautiful feed from the low side of the left circle to Jacob Hetz who was parked in the slot. Hetz flung one in on net and it zipped past Gorsuch for the opening score of the game at the 10:32 mark.
The Ice Dogs struck again just three minutes after that goal. Defenseman Doug Rose gain control of the puck after the Warriors were cycling in the Ice Dogs zone. Rose then moved the puck up the Ice to Hans Gorowsky along the left boards. Gorowsky skated across the blue line and with a defender in his face fired on towards Gorsuch right above the left circle. It was too hot to handle for Gorsuch who tried to stop it but it bounce right over his glove for the goal.
Fairbanks came back for more again just three minutes ticked off the clock before another Ice Dogs tally. Gervais was the server again. Gorsuch left the net to pass the puck to one of his teammates after the Ice Dogs dumped down into the Michigan zone. Gervais was first to the puck and feathered a pass into the slot to Yannick Vedel. Vedel ripped another in front of Gorsuch and he couldn't react fast enough. The Ice Dogs had a 3-0 lead at the end of the first period.
The second period went scoreless as both teams tightened the reigns defensively. The Ice Dogs killed three penalties and the Warriors killed two. Fairbanks goalie Kevin Aldridge made 12 saves in the period and Gorsuch had 10 of his own. Both goalies had 20 saves at the end of the second period.
It looked as if Aldridge would get his third shutout of the postseason but that would not be the case as the Warriors finally found some success. Connor Lyons noticed a defender and teammate Jake Hopfner shielding Aldridge's view. Lyons took a shot and Hopfner turned and redirected glove side for the goal with 9:06 left in the game.
But the Ice Dogs would not allow another score. Aldridge made 30 saves on the night including the shutout second period. Fairbanks held the edge in shots on goal 35-31.
The first period was huge as the Ice Dogs take game one 3-1 over the Michigan Warriors. The Ice Dogs can close this best three series tonight with a win and secure a berth into the Robertson Cup Championship series.