FAIRBANKS-It was an instant classic. There were momentum swings throughout but the Ice Dogs had the pendulum swing their way in overtime after a rebound shot from local product Tayler Munson. The shot gave Fairbanks a 5-4 overtime win over the visiting Austin Bruins on Friday night.
Munson's second rebound goal of the night was the difference in game one of the Robertson Cup championship series. Defenseman Wyatt Ege got into the right circle and fired a shot on Austin goalie Nick Lehr and Munson was in the right place at the right time standing right beside Lehr for the tap in after 5:12 of overtime.
The Big Dipper was filled to the brim as Ice Dog fans cheered on the top team in the NAHL all season. NAHL commissioner Mark Frankfeld dropped the puck and game one of the Robertson Cup finals was at hand.
The first period almost went scoreless as Lehr and Kevin Aldridge of Fairbanks both had 10 saves in the opening period. Aldridge couldn't get the 11th as the Bruins got traffic in front on a power play. Drew Anderson put it in net after the Lucas Kohls assist with 1:14 left in the first period. The Bruins scored the first goal of this championship series and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The momentum went in favor of the Ice Dogs in the second period. At the 10:10 mark of the second Colton Wolter won a battle on the boards and finds Jacob Hetz in the slot and Hetz winds up for a quick shot that finds nylon for the equalizer. Three and half minutes latter Ege and Munson were able to move the puck over to Hans Gorowsky who flings the puck on net and scores again for the Ice Dogs who gain their first lead of the game 2-1.
But the Bruins had a quick response. Jay Dickman tied the game again with his goal that was the result of a Fairbanks turnover in their zone.
Fairbanks shook that off and kept on the pressure. There was a mad scramble of bodies as the Ice Dogs kept going after rebound shots on near misses that were deflected out by Lehr and Bruin defensemen. Amid the bodies the puck somehow goes from Nick Hinz to Brett Gervais then ends up off of the stick of Lonnie Clary for a swift slapshot. Lehr went sprawling down to the ice to stop it but the puck just barely went past the goaline right above the outstretched glove of Lehr. It was perfect example of the saying that sports is a "game of inches".
After a review the goal would stand and that would cap off a three goal second period by the Ice Dogs who would have a 3-2 lead going into the final period.
Munson led the charge in the third period playing clean up man. Viktor Liljegren made nice move along the boards to lose a Bruin and fired an uncontested shot on net. Lehr made the initial stop by Munson came crashing towards the loose puck and pop the puck over Lehr as he rolled towards the wall on his knees. The 4-2 lead would seem daunting at this point but not for Austin.
Momentum would quickly go back to the Bruins who put the Ice Dogs on their heels. Austin had a knack for quick scoring. After Munson's goal only 51 seconds ticked off the clock before the Bruins made it a game. Sam Kauppila brought Austin within one with his tally after Anderson and Cory Dunn cycled it over to Kaupplia who got the Aldridge out of position.
Dickman made the big play with 2:29 left in regulation. The Ice Dogs couldn't clear the puck quick enough and Dickman got the puck off of a deflection and sent on in high and over the shoulder of Aldridge to knot the game up a 4-4. That was Dickman's second goal of the game. Anderson was credited with the assist which was third of the game. Anderson led all skaters with four points.
Fairbanks would go back to the formula that had been working on net and that was putting shots and net and letting Munson get the put backs. Munson's game winner was his second goal of the game and he finished with three points added an assist. Ege also had two assists for the Ice Dogs.
The Ice Dogs have the opportunity to win the Robertson Cup with a win tonight in game two at the Big Dipper. Their last Robertson Cup victory was in 2011.