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North To Alaska Brahmas – Ice Dogs Preview

Photo courtesy of Rebekah Bing Photography: Head Coach Dan Wildfong will lead the Lone Star Brahmas into a big weekend series against the Midwest Division leading Fairbanks Ice Dogs at the Big Dipper Arena in Fairbanks, Alaska this weekend.


The Lone Star Brahmas are making the first ever trip to the 49th state in franchise history to face the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Friday and Saturday at the Big Dipper Arena. The only other times the two teams have met were during the NAHL Showcase Tournament. In 2013 Fairbanks cruised to a 6-3 decision during the Brahmas inaugural season in the league. Two years later, the Ice Dogs took a 1-0 win in a six round shootout with former Brahma Liam Stirtzinger scoring the game winner.

W L OTL SOL PTS Standings
Lone Star 17 9 4 2 40 3rd in South Div
Fairbanks 23 5 3 2 51 1st in Midwest Div


The Brahmas are coming off a three point weekend against the Corpus Christi Icerays. Lone Star hit the ice Friday night following their two week Christmas break and jumped out to a 2-0 lead early through the 3:42 mark of the second. Justin Addamo (9G-8A) put them on the board with the only goal of the first with Michael Montambault (7G-7A) hitting the net in the second. Unfortunately the Icerays scored three times in under nine minutes to take a one goal lead into the third. Montambault scored his second of the game in the third to force overtime, but Corpus Christi scored the game winner with 29 seconds left in overtime. Mitchell Gibson (13-5-3-2) faced 27 shots in the overtime loss. Saturday night the Brahmas once again scored first with Connor Pooley (2G-6A) lighting the lamp just 3:00 into the contest. From there it was the Jon Russell (22G-7A) show with the new Brahma scoring late in the first and adding two more in the middle frame for his first hat trick of the season. Connor Stuart (3G8A) added an insurance goal in the third to support Harrison Feeney (4-2-1-0) in the win. Feeney stopped 15 of the 16 shots he faced on the night.

The Ice Dogs continued their point streak against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights this past weekend. Fairbanks has points in sixteen straight games going 14-0-2-0 during the streak. In game one the Ice Dogs found themselves down a goal just 33 seconds into the game. It didn’t take long for them to respond with Jake Borgida (2G-5A), Caleb Hite (9G-13A) and Tanner Schachle (16G-17A) scoring before the end of the frame. Erkka Vanska (14G-19A) scored 45 seconds into the second period before the Knights scored twice to pull within one. Hunter Wendt scored the only goal of the third as the Ice Dogs grabbed a 5-3 win. Josh Benson (14-3-2-2) logged the win on 29 saves. In game two it was the Knights once again moving out to a one goal lead before the Fairbanks offense came to life scoring the next four goals. Jax Murray (6G-13A) and Hunter Wendt (12G-22A) scored in the first, Connor Chilton (2G-7A) in the second and Schachle in the third. Benson picked was in net again facing 32 shots on the night.


Last 5 Games 

Brahmas 2 1 2 0 6
Ice Dogs 5 0 0 0 10


Special Teams

The Brahmas had only two power play opportunities in their series against Corpus Christi converting one, so their power play remains 21st in the league. Their percentage increased slightly to 15.7% as a result on 22 goals in 140 opportunities. On the road they drop to 22nd at 10.6% scoring only 7 times on 66 power plays. In their last five games they are 2 for 13 or 15.4%. On the penalty kill Lone Star is 8th overall at 82.9% allowing 22 goals on 129 kills. They have played well on the road moving up to 4th killing off 49 of 57 opponent power plays good for 86.0%. Over the past five game Lone Star has allowed 2 goals on 17 penalty kills or 88.2%.

The Ice Dogs power play is 10th overall at 21.0% scoring 29 times in 138 opportunities. Surprisingly at home they fall to 19th with 10 goals on 59 power plays or 16.9%. Over the past five games, Fairbanks is 2 for 19 and 10.5%. Fairbank’s penalty kill is the crème of the crop setting 1st overall at 91.5% allowing just 9 goals on 106 kills. Opponents have managed just 2 power play goals on the Ice Dogs’ home ice in 36 opportunities which has them 2nd in the NAHL. Over the last five games their penalty kill has killed 15 of 16 opponent power plays or 93.8%.


Goaltending Comparison Last 5 Games

Brahmas 2 1 2 0 1 9 1.77 102 0.919
Ice Dogs 5 0 0 0 0 9 1.80 124 0.932


Who is Hot (Last 5 Games)

Brahmas G A Pts
Jon Russell 3 1 4
Austin Bottrell 0 4 4
Ture Linden 0 4 4
Michael Montambault 2 1 3
Connor Stuart 2 1 3
Ice Dogs G A Pts
Tanner Schachle 3 2 5
Erkka Vanska 3 2 5
Hunter Wendt 3 2 5
Connor Chilton 1 4 5
Samuel Ruffin 1 4 5

Inside the Game

  • Lone Star is currently tied for 7th overall in the NAHL at 40 points while Fairbanks is 2nd with 51 points two points behind Shreveport.
  • Fairbanks sports a strong offense with four skaters in the top 12 in scoring. Samuel Ruffin (12G-23A) is tied for 5th, Hunter Wendt (12G-22A) is 7th while Tanner Schachle (16G-17A) and Erkka Vanska (14G-19A) are tied for 8th.
  • Jon Russell is currently tied for the league lead in goals scored with 22. Tanner Schachle is tied for 6th with 16 and Erkka Vanska is tied for 14th with 14.
  • Samuel Ruffin is tied for 3rd with 23 assists. Hunter Wendt with 22 is tied for 6th.
  • Jon Russell with 12 power play goals is leading the league in that category. Tanner Schachle is fourth in the league with 7.
  • Jon Russell is tied for the league lead with 5 game winning goals. Erkka Vanska is tied for 4th with 4 while Ture Linden (6G-13A), Justin Addamo, Aidan Spellacy (5G-11A) Robert Blueger (9G-18A), Jack Johnston (9G-9A) and Hunter Wendt are all tied for 10th with 3 apiece.
  • Defense and Goaltending will be on display in the series. Lone Star comes in with the 2nd ranked defense allowing 2.03 goals against per game and Fairbanks is one spot behind allowing 2.09 goals against per game.
  • Mitchell Gibson and Logan Neaton (9-2-1-0) are tied for 2nd overall with a 1.69 goals against average. John Benson is 5th with a 2.06 goals against average. Harrison Feeney with a 1.75 goals against average would be 4th had he played the required 660 minutes to qualify among leaders.
  • With a 0.931 save percentage Mitchell Gibson is 5th in the NAHL. Josh Benson is tied for 13th with a 0.920 save percentage and Logan Neaton is 19th with a 0.916 save percentage. Harrison Feeney has a 0.919 save percentage which would be 16th
  • Mitchell Gibson is tied for the league lead in shutouts with 5.
  • Big Dipper Arena has historically been a tough place to play for visitors. However, this season the Ice Dogs are only 6-4-2-1 at home with a +5 goal differential compared to 17-1-1-1 on the road with a +49 goal differential.
  • While Lone Star has not been stellar in overtime with a three wins and six losses in nine games, Fairbanks is one of only two teams to yet win a game extending beyond regulation. The Ice Dogs have lost three times in overtime and twice in shootouts is five games.
  • The first goal could be a predictor in each game with Fairbanks holding a 15-0-2-1 record when scoring first and Lone Star having an 11-2-3-0 record when scoring first.
  • Fairbanks has been strongest offensively in the first period scoring 47 of their goals in the opening frame. This may play well for Lone Star whose defense is at its strongest in the first allowing only 14 goals in the opening 20 minutes.
  • The Ice Dogs have the top overall offense in the league at 3.73 goals per game to go along with the 3rd overall defense allowing 2.09 goals against for a +1.64 goal differential. The Brahmas on the other hand have the 21st ranked offense averaging 2.47 goals for and the 2nd ranked defense allowing 2.03 goals against for a +0.44 goal differential.
  • The Brahmas are 4-8-3-2 when leading or tied after two periods pulling 13 points out of those situations. The Ice Dogs are 2-5-2-1 under the same circumstances for 7 points.
  • The Ice Dogs are riding an eight game win streak going into the series.


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