West Division Finals, Game #5
Fairbanks Ice Dogs 1 @ Wenatchee Wild 3 (Wenatchee wins series, 3-2)
Entering Game 5 on Tuesday night in Wenatchee, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs knew they would have to generate enough offense against the Wenatchee Wild in order to gain an advantage and sustain it throughout the game in order to return to the Robertson Cup Tournament. However, in true Wenatchee fashion the Wild shut down and eventually wore down the Ice Dogs on their way to a 3-1 win in Game 5 and a 3-2 West Division Finals series win on their way to the West Division Playoff Crown.
One of the keys to the game for Fairbanks was limiting the chances of the Wild, which they did for the most part as Wenatchee had 26 shots, but one of the keys to the game for Fairbanks was to generate offense and get more shots on the goal than the 25 they had been averaging in the series. It was not to be for the Ice Dogs as they managed just 18 shots on goal in the decisive game.
After a scoreless 1st period, which saw the predicted goaltending dual between Wenatchee’s Robert Nichols and Fairbanks’ Steve Perry, it was the Ice Dogs who struck first early in the 2nd period.
In a scrum behind the Wenatchee net, Nick Hinz emerged to try and stuff a wrap-around through Nichols. The goaltender denied the chance, but the rebound came right to Jacob Hetz, who stuffed home the loose puck for a 1-0 Fairbanks lead.
The Wild would answer back later in the period as Jono Davis skated down the right hand side and unleashed a shot, which was denied by Perry, but the rebound came right to Jacob Barber in the low slot and he fired a shot that squeaked through a screened Perry to tie the game at 1-1. It was Barber’s league-leading 7th goal and 11th point of the playoffs.
Midway through the 3rd period, the Wild would capture the eventual game-winning goal from 17-year-old Brian Williams, who found the puck in the high slot and let go a snap shot that Perry never saw as he flew over his blocker side for a 2-1 lead. Josh Hartley picked up the lone assist.
Fairbanks had one last gasp with just over a minute to go as Perry was pulled for the extra attacker, but a turnover at the Wenatchee blueline led to a breakaway pass for Jono Davis who beat the Fairbanks defender down the ice and put the puck into the empty-net for a 3-1 win.
The Wild advance to their third Robertson Cup Tournament and first since the team hosted the event back in 2010. They will be the #2 seed at the event, which begins on Friday, May 10th at the Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco, Texas.
The Robertson Cup Schedule is set and will be as follows (all times central):
Friday, May 10th: 4:30pm, #2 Wenatchee Wild vs. #3 Bismarck Bobcats – 7:30pm, #4 Jamestown Ironmen vs. #1 Amarillo Bulls
Saturday, May 11th: 4:30pm, #2 Wenatchee Wild vs. #4 Jamestown Ironmen – 7:30pm, #3 Bismarck Bobcats vs. #1 Amarillo Bulls
Sunday, May 12th: 4:30pm, #2 Wenatchee Wild vs. #1 Amarillo Bulls – 7:30pm, #3 Bismarck Bobcats vs. #4 Jamestown Ironmen
Monday, May 13th: 7:30pm, Robertson Cup National Championship Game (top two teams after round-robin)
For more information on the Robertson Cup, visit www.robertsoncup.com