The Fairbanks Ice Dogs handed the Kenai River Brown Bears their third consecutive defeat with a 6-2 triumph in North American Hockey League action Friday at the Soldotna Sports Center.
The Bears (16-10-1, 33 points) slipped into a tie for third place in the NAHL West Division with the Fresno (Calif.) Monsters. The Ice Dogs (16-7-6, 38 points) hold second behind the Alaska Avalanche of Palmer.
Kenai River and Fairbanks square off again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the sports center.
The Bears held a brief lead Friday, but it was all Ice Dogs after that.
Matt Thompson made it 1-0 with the Bears on the power play when he scooped up a rebound and poked the puck past Ice Dogs goaltender Alex Fons at the 8:40 mark of the first.
Raymond Stenehjem and Bobby Murphy earned assists.
That would be the Bears’ only lead.
Less than a minute after Thompson’s strike, JT Osborn finished assists from Gabe Levin and Garret Clemment at even strength to notch it at 1.
Jeff Earnest gave the Ice Dogs a 2-1 lead when he got into open space and finished assists from Alec Hajdukovich and Russell Finch with 18:48 remaining in the second.
The lead ballooned to 3-1 when Pete Spratte sent a crisp right-to-left cross to Max Birkinbine, who beat Kenai River goaltender Paul Bourbeau.
Bourbeau, who finished with 19 saves on 22 shots, was pulled after the play for Austin Severson.
Kenai River sliced into the lead when Zac Lazzaro sent a left-handed shot off the body of Fons. The puck took a fortuitous bounce onto the stick of Chris Nuth, who buried a one-timer with 8:00 left in the period. Lazzaro and Kellen Wasell earned assists.
Fairbanks regained a two-goal edge with 2:38 to play in the second when Clemment converted on a two-on-one break, finishing assists from Levin and Justin Woods.
The dagger came with 7:10 remaining in the final frame as Logan Wendling beat Severson to give the Ice Dogs a 5-2 lead. Jakob Romo and Sean O’Rourke earned assists.
Spratte finished the scoring with a goal on the power play with less than five seconds to play.
Ice Dogs 5, Brown Bears 2
Fairbanks 1 3 2 --6
Kenai River 1 1 0 --2
First period – 1. Kenai River, Thompson (Murphy, Stenehjem), pp, 11:20; 2. Fairbanks, Osborn (Clemment, Levin), 12:03. Penalties – Fairbanks 1 for 2:00; Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Second period – 3. Fairbanks, Earnest (Finch, Hajdukovich), 1:12; 4. Fairbanks, Birkinbine (Spratte, Hinz), 5:20; 5. Kenai River, Nuth (Lazzaro, Wasell), 12:00; 6. Fairbanks, Clemment (Levin, Woods), 17:22. Penalties – none.
Third period – 7. Fairbanks, Wendling (Romo, O’Rourke), 12:50; 8. Fairbanks, Spratte (Birkinbine, Racklin), 19:57. Penalties – Fairbanks 2 for 4:00; Kenai River 4 for 8:00.
Penalties – Fairbanks 3 for 6:00; Kenai River 5 for 10:00.
Shots on goal – Fairbanks (16-10-12—38); Kenai River (8-6-5—19).
Goalies – Kenai River, Bourbeau (22 shots, 19 saves), Severson (16 shots, 13 saves); Fairbanks, Fons (19 shots, 17 saves).
Power plays – Fairbanks 1 for 4; Kenai River 1 for 2.