Ice Dogs win ERA Cup and first place in Midwest division

SOLDOTNA-Tonight on the road the Fairbanks Ice Dogs earned themselves some early Christmas gifts. They followed up last night's 2-1 victory with another one goal 3-2 win over the Kenai River Brown Bears.

After a scoreless first period Todd Burgess put the Ice Dogs up at the 3:27 mark. Hans Gorowsky would follow up with a goals of his own about five minutes later. The Brown Bears would answer and make it a game going into third. Matt Rudin got one past Ice Dogs goalie Kevin Aldridge with 47 seconds left in the second to make a 2-1 game.

But it would be the Ice Dogs special teams, of all things, and their defense that propelled them a big win on the road. Coming into this series the are last in the NAHL in power play goals. Their game winning play could change that going into the second half of the season. At the 5:34 mark of the final period Burgess found Chanlder Madry who scored what would turn out to be the game winner on a power play goal.

With less than two minutes to go Eric Purcell brought the Brown Bears within one, 3-2 but the Ice Dogs defense and Aldridge held off Kenai for the duration.

Aldridge stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced. The Ice Dogs got 36 shots on goalie Zach Quinn and he made 33 saves. Burgess and Victor Munter led the Ice Dogs with multi-point games. Burgess had a goal and an assist while Munter added two helpers.

The win clinces the ERA Cup best of 16 game series between the intrastate rivals. The Ice Dogs win it in handedly 9-1. Fairbanks won the first ERA Cup last year 8-8 but had the tiebreaker in points from wins, ties and shootout wins.

The victory makes the Ice Dogs (20-8)  the front runners in the Midwest Division again with a two point lead (40-38) over the Minnesota Wilderness (17-6-4).

The Ice Dogs will be back in action on the road against the Bismarck Bobcats in Bismarck, ND on Dec. 27. That will also start a six game road trip for Fairbanks. The Ice Dogs won't return home to play in the Big Dipper until Jan. 9 against the Minnesota Magicians.