FAIRBANKS-The only NAHL playoff game on Monday night was at the Big Dipper and it was a critical game three in the Midwest division finals between the Wenatchee Wild and Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Fairbanks shutout the Wild on Monday night 2-0 showing that the Ice Dogs once again can and have won pivotal games.
Game three was highlighted by a goalie getting his second shutout of the postseason and a player coming back from an injury to provide an emotional lift to his team and the Big Dipper fans.
There were a number of chances for Fairbanks in the first period but it was a scoreless period. Chase Perry of Wenatchee and Kevin Aldridge in net for Fairbanks dueled on opposite ends of the ice trying not to be the first goalie to blink. Nine saves for Perry in the first and six for Aldridge but the Ice Dogs were the aggressors early on.
Also in that first period Ice Dogs forward Yannick Vedel went down awkwardly as he and Troy Loggins went of Wentachee raced towards a puck in the Wild's zone. Vedel went down and had a bad bounce off the boards going back first. He was helped off the ice by a trainer and two teammates but that wasn't the last impression of Vedel.
Now there was some pretty tight defense from both squads as shots were few and highly contested. If anything got through those shots were stopped. Fairbanks was the leader in stingy defense as Fairbanks defenseman blocked a number of Wenatchee shots and cleared pucks in a timely fashion. Fairbanks as 4-4 on the penalty kills as well.
The first goal of the game didn't occur until the 7:48 mark of the second period and it was a shortie from Fairbanks. The Ice Dog defenseman Duggie Lagrone blocked a shot from the Wild and the puck got into the neutral zone and Tayler Munson chased it down for Fairbanks. Munson secured the puck by the left circle but lost control of it. He was able to get the puck after winning a battle for it in the corner. Munson's activity resulted in the puck going into the slot where Colton Wolter tapped in backhand style in front of Perry for the game's first score.
Remember Vedel went down in the first period but returned to the action in the third. Vedel got a little revenge after toughing out that scary collision. The Ice Dogs were at the blue line of the Wild's zone and Nick Hinz flung one towards the net, it bounced off of Brett Gervais' gut but Vedel followed the buck and fired one in from the slot to give Fairbanks a 2-0 with 5:36 left in the game.
Aldridge just stood tall in net for the Ice Dogs robbing Wenatchee 25 times getting saves on even strength, power play, and right on the door step chances for the Wild. The Ice Dogs close out and win game three 2-0. The shutout is Aldridge's fourth of season, second in these playoffs and the second shutout against Wenatchee.
The Ice Dogs take a 2-1 series lead in the best of five division final. Game four is Friday night in Wenatchee. A win in game four or game five will give the Ice Dogs a berth in the Robertson Cup semifinals.