Division-leading Fairbanks tops Anchorage Wolverines 5-2
Jan. 28—The last time the Fairbanks Ice Dogs were in town to face the Anchorage Wolverines, the Ice Dogs were visibly irked over the proximity to the Fairbanks bench of a foghorn that went off every time the Wolverines scored a goal.
Even though the foghorn is now perched in the rafters, Fairbanks goalie Kayden Hargraves said he had heard enough.
Hargraves was spectacular at times and generally solid Friday in making 38 saves in a 5-2 Fairbanks win at Ben Boeke Arena.
When asked who on the Ice Dogs roster may have felt some extra motivation to curb the blaring horn in the team's return to Anchorage, Hargraves had a concise answer.
"Me," he laughed pointing to himself. "Right here."
Hargraves said the spectacle and excitement that marked the early November meeting between the teams is what helps develop a rivalry.
"Every game is a new game, but it's a fun atmosphere though," he said. "When you come to these buildings, you want to win. You want to win on the road and they want to do the same to us. It's a fun little rivalry."
Fairbanks took a 1-0 lead late in the first period, with Domenick Evtimov scoring on a rebound just as a power play was about to expire.
The Ice Dogs pushed the lead to 3-0 on second-period goals by Julian Recine and Billy Renfrew, the latter on a power play. The Wolverines finally cracked Hargraves late in the second period, Tomek Haula scoring in quick fashion after a face-off.
"You've got to just stay composed," Hargraves said. "You know when a goal goes in and they're blaring that horn you can't let it get to you."
Cole Burke made it 4-1 Ice Dogs after getting one past Anchorage goalie Shane Soderwall following an Fairbanks rush up the ice. Wolverines forward Jackson Reineke's wrist shot on the power play cut the Fairbanks lead to 4-2 late in the third but an empty netter by Renfrew snuffed out any potential Anchorage comeback.
Hargraves said the familiarity between the teams can make the margins even smaller for trying to gain an edge.
"I think it just comes down to who works harder," he said. "We're pretty evenly matched teams. I think most weekends it's a 1-1 (split series). So it just comes down to whose game it is."
With the win, the Ice Dogs stand in first place in the North American Hockey League's Midwest Division with 49 points. The Wolverines are sixth in the division and 11 points back with 38.
With 21 points, the Wolverines are still six points ahead of Fairbanks in the Club 49 Cup standings for in-state supremacy. Both teams are well clear of Kenai River, which is four points ahead of Anchorage in the division standings. Hargraves said regardless of positioning, those games are important.
"Especially for the (Club 49) Cup, obviously in-division," Hargraves said. "We play them 12 times in the season. So it's pretty important to do well against teams in Alaska."
The two teams face off again Saturday at Ben Boeke at 7 p.m.