Fairbanks, AK. – The Wenatchee Wild put up a strong effort Saturday night but the Fairbanks Ice Dogs were able to come away with a 4-3 win in front of 2,242 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks, Alaska.
The Ice Dogs grabbed the initial lead on a power play goal at the 15:13 mark of the first period scored by Jacob Hetz, assisted by Kyle Lee and Doug Rose.
Garret Clemment extended the lead with a rebound goal 3:00 into the second period. Zack Rall and Kevin Aldridge assisted, upping the Fairbanks lead to 2-0. The Wild would come right back 46 seconds later, on a goal in tight by Jacob Barber (Dardenne Praire, Missouri), assisted by Nick Kuchera (Eagan, Minnesota) and Dylan Abood (Centennial, Colorado) at 3:46, Barber’s 18th of the season sliced the deficit to 2-1. Lonny Clary would reestablish the two-goal lead for the Ice Dogs at 3-1 just 40 seconds later, off assists by Brett Gervais and Johnny Meuller at 4:26. A goal off an odd-man rush would cut into the deficit just over 4 minutes later, as Noah Nelson (Oconomowoc, Wisconsin) would tap home a crossing pass at the right post for a power play goal. Assists went to Chris Kerr (Penticton, British Columbia) and Josh Hartley (Coquitlam, British Columbia) at 8:42, drawing the Wild to within 1, at 3-2, on Nelson’s 4th goal of the season. Fairbanks got their two-goal lead back with Kyle Lee scoring, off assists by Hetz and Clemment at 11:59, making it 4-2 Ice Dogs, a lead they would carry into the third period.
Wenatchee’s second power play goal of the night was backhanded into the goal by Trevor Stewart (East Wenatchee, Washington), his 6th goal of the season, assisted by Jono Davis (La Verne, California) and Joe Sullivan (Las Vegas, Nevada) at 9:34, bringing the Wild back to within 1 once again, at 4-3. Wenatchee would maintain pressure the rest of the way but weren’t able to come up with the equalizer, as Fairbanks held on for the 4-3 win.
The Wild held a 31-22 advantage in shots on the night. Robbie Nichols (Dallas, Texas) made 18 saves for Wenatchee and Kevin Aldridge had 28 stops for the Ice Dogs. The Wild was 2-for-7 on the power play and 4-of-5 on the penalty kill. “I thought we were outstanding” said Wenatchee Head Coach Bliss Littler. “They (Fairbanks) had a lot of breaks tonight and we had a tough time figuring out what the standard was being called from one shift to the next. Curious at best, but we played awful well.”
Wenatchee’s record is now 36-11-6 on the season, the Ice Dogs go to 36-14-3. The Wild lead the West Division by 3 points, with 7 games remaining.
Wenatchee stays in the Frozen North for three more games, moving on to Kenai River for those three games (8:05pm PDT on March 14th, 8:30pm PDT on Friday and Saturday, March 15th and 16th) next week. The Wild will then close out the regular season with a four-game home-and-home series versus Fresno, with games in Wenatchee on Friday and Saturday, March 22nd and 23rd (7:05pm PDT both nights), then in Fresno on Friday and Saturday, March 29th and 30th (7:35pm PDT both nights). Individual and group game tickets for all remaining home games are on sale now. Call 509.888.PUCK (7825).