FAIRBANKS,AK-The biggest crowd of the season was on hand for the last home game of the season for the Ice Dogs.The fans were buzzing up until puck drop and the Ice Dogs had them on the edge of their seats as the home team closed out this elimination game with a 3-2 win.
It seemed that this game would be a low scoring affair early on with both goalies displaying why there some the best if not in the NAHL than definitely in the west division. The first period would go scoreless. Both teams played great defense whether it was clearing puck out of the zone at the right time or squeezing passing lanes and making shooting windows tight. If anything got through that the goalies made great saves. Steve Perry stopped all nine first period shots for Fairbanks. Robert Nichols stopped 10 shots and went unfazed on a penalty shot that was missed by Garret Clemment.
The last two periods is where the action was. Just like in game one the Wild would get the top side of the scoreboard first. 12:27 in the second when Wenatchee's Max McHugh broke the scoreless tie with his goal assisted by Jono Davis who was last night's player of the game. However, the Ice Dogs did something they didn't do in game three-answer and answer quickly. The hushed crowd didn't have to wait long to cheer. 13 seconds after Wenatchee's goal Lawrence Cornellier got one past Nichols thanks to the dish by teammate Taylor Munson. It's knotted up at 1-1 with 7:20 left in the period. Nichols recovered with a tremendous butterfly save at the buzzer turning away Munson's shot attempt right on the doorstep on the weak side. It's 1-1 at the end of the second period but Munson would have an answer for that save.
The third period featured another Wenatchee score which gave them the momentum and once again silenced the Big Dipper crowd. Joe Sullivan scored for the Wild around the same time of Cornellier's did in the second period. Sullivan's goal occuring at the 12:39 mark of the third. Jacob Barber and Noah Nelson setup Sullivan on the 2-1 score. But Fairbanks answered again almost immediately. 9 seconds after the Ice Dogs were down 2-1 Colton Wolter tied it at two all. Brett Gervais skated out the faceoff brought the buck across the blue line and passed to a streaking Wolter who went top shelf on the right post behind Nichols. The crowd errupted after that goal it was on the Ice Dogs to close the deal.
Instead waiting to answer again the Ice Dogs took advantage of the quick goal momentum and turned into another goal. This time it was Munson. 6:11 left in the game a deflected pass finds its way to Garrett Clement who skated aggressively towards Nichols then passed it to Munson who found an open net and tapped it in to provide the Ice Dogs a 3-2 advantage. The Ice Dogs defense went back to their first period prowess and held off the last flurry by the Wild to come away with a 3-2 win sending the home crowd in a frenzy as they witness this team win on home ice for the last time.
Perry saw 23 shots and stopped 21 of them. Nichols made 25 saves on 28 shots giving Fairbanks a 28-23 edge with shots on goal. The special teams was on point for both squads as the Wild and the Ice Dogs went 0-3.
This must win victory for Fairbanks ties the west division finals at 2-2. A trip to the Robertson Cup is on the line in game five Tuesday night in Wenatchee.