The Springfield Jr. Blues hosted their second Alaska-based team, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs tonight at the Nelson Center in Springfield. Despite a dominating first period, the Jr. Blues' lead disappeared and the Ice Dogs won 3-2. It was disappointing to see the Jr. Blues fall yet again at home. Their dynamic scoring run in the first period and power play carryover from the second to third periods kept the momentum for the Jr. Blues, but the boys from Fairbanks managed to counter it.
The first period was all Springfield's game. Parker Johnson scored with a tip-in goal as he shot through the crease at full speed at 5:55. James McGing got the assist. After the initial joy died down, the Jr. Blues added another goal as second-year veteran Brett Skibba fired a beautiful shot past Fairbanks goalie Kevin Aldridge. No penalties occurred during the first period.
In the second period, the Ice Dogs decided to go against the momentum gained by Springfield. Doug Rose started the trend by scoring for Fairbanks at 2:14. The rest of the second period seesawed as neither group could gain an advantage during the power play. Oliver Tackasi-Nagy left for the penalty box first for tripping at 2:49. Ben Campbell took a penalty at 6:28 for hooking. At 9:53, Theo Tydingco left for the penalty box after an interference call. The diminutive defenseman's puck skills were missed, but the Jr. Blues managed to keep the Ice Dogs away from the crease. Finally, the Ice Dogs got the last penalty of the period when Lonnie Clary went to the box for elbowing at 19:44, allowing the Jr. Blues to carry a power play into the third period.
Despite the power play advantage that started the third period, Springfield could not capitalize on their situation. Fairbanks killed their penalty and continued the upward swing during the game. Defenseman Ji Li was sent to the box for interference at 2:46. A screen of Springfield goalie Matt Leon allowed Logan Wendling to fire the puck past him at 4:09 for a power play goal. This tied the game at two apiece. The next goal came shortly after at 4:52 as Kyle Lee took another screened shot into the goal at 4:52 to give Fairbanks the lead. There was a quick cross-checking penalty at 12:06, but I did not hear the name of the Fairbanks player who was called for it. The rest of the game was even-strength after that, allowing the Ice Dogs to hold their lead until the final buzzer. Fairbanks won 3-2.
There weren't many turnovers by Springfield, and despite numerous calls by fans to start hitting Fairbanks players, the Jr. Blues kept their penalties to a minimum tonight in contrast to last week's troubles with Kenai River. The discipline showed itself in crisp passes and good positioning for takeaways. The Jr. Blues maintained their energy level throughout the game but were unable to match Fairbanks in the last half of the game. Springfield has now had its taste of holding a lead. With luck the Jr. Blues will take this knowledge to the next game and hold it for dear life. The Jr. Blues fall to a 1-5-1 record and Fairbanks increases its record to 5-2-0. These two teams will face each other again on September 29 at 7:05pm. Springfield's Nelson Center will be the place. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids under 18, seniors and veterans. Come on out and watch some hockey with us!