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Ice Dogs defeat Brown Bears

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs overcame a 2-1 deficit at the end of the first period to claim a 4-2 victory over the Kenai River Brown Bears in North American Hockey League play at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Friday.

The same two teams play tonight at the sports complex at 7:30 p.m.

The victory was crucial for the Ice Dogs as they chase the Midwest Division title and the Club 49 Cup.

Fairbanks improved to 35-19-1-2 with the victory, moving into sole possession of first place in the Midwest with 73 points.

The Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues were tied with the Ice Dogs for first place heading into Friday, but the Jr. Blues suffered a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wilderness on Friday.

The Club 49 Cup is the seasonlong battle for supremacy between Alaska’s three NAHL teams — the Brown Bears, Ice Dogs and Anchorage Wolverines.

The Ice Dogs’ Friday victory cut Anchorage’s advantage to 30-29, with the Bears trailing with 11 points. The fate of the cup will be decided when the Ice Dogs and Wolverines square off in Fairbanks on April 8 and 9.

The Brown Bears fall to 13-39-3-2 and remain in last place in the division. Kenai River has now lost seven games in a row.

Kenai River came out strong in the first period.

Fairbanks’ Jake Hale started off the scoring 4:38 into the first, assisted by Tyler Stewart and Jack Ring.

Kenai River pushed back to take the lead, with Kaden Hjelm scoring on assists from Kris Zapata and Brendan Hill, and Max Marquette lighting the lamp with help from Ryan Finch.

In the second period, Tristan Sarsland, assisted by Kevin Marx Noren and Love Bergvall, tied the game headed to the third period.

With 16:29 left in the game, Jacob Conrad notched the decider for Fairbanks, assisted by Ring and Stewart. Alexander Malinowski, assisted by Braden Lindstrom and Cameron Ricotta, then put the game away with 1:29 to play.

Kayden Hargraves made 35 saves to win for Fairbanks, while Bryant Marks stopped 28 in the loss.

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