Austin Bruins 4 @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs 5 (Fairbanks leads best of three series, 1-0) – It was an overtime classic in the first game of the Robertson Cup Finals, as the Austin Bruins climbed back from two goals down in the 3rd period only to see the Ice Dogs score off a face-off early in the overtime to claim Game 1 and move one win away from the Robertson Cup title.
The 1st period featured a very cautious start by both teams. Both goalies, Nick Lehr for Austin and Kevin Aldridge for Fairbanks were sharp early. A late Bruins power play in the opening period netted the game’s first goal. Bruins forward Jay Dickman parked himself in his usual spot on the right hash mark. He centered a pass, which was intended for Drew Anderson, but was taken in the high slot by Lucas Kohls, who turned around and slid a shot through a screened Aldridge for a 1-0 lead. The best Ice Dogs chance of the period came off a breakaway by Jacob Hetz, but his backhander went off Lehr and off the post and into the corner.
The 2nd period was a flurry of activity and the Ice Dogs wasted no time in equalizing the score at 1-1 as Jacob Hetz got a pass in the high slot and fired a shot that beat goalie Nick Lehr to the blocker side. Less than four minutes later, the Ice Dogs took their first lead of the night as Hans Gorowsky was in the right place at the right time as a shot from the point was blocked in traffic and Gorowsky picked up the loose puck in the slot and fired a shot past a startled Lehr for a 2-1 lead. Just over a minute after that goal, the Bruins responded with some pressure in the Ice Dogs zone. After the Ice Dogs could not clear, the Bruins came in on a mini 3 on 2 as leading scorer Jay Dickman got the puck in the low slot and fired a shot of Aldridge’s shoulder to tie the game at 2-2. With time ticking down in the period, it was Lonnie Clary who gave the Ice Dogs the lead back as he fired a shot from his knees in the slot that made its way through traffic past a screened Lehr and trickled across the goal line for a 3-2 lead after two periods.
The Bruins came out firing in the 3rd period, but Alridge was equal to the task. It paid off for Fairbanks as Viktor Liljegren raced in on a breakaway, which was saved by Lehr, but some nice hustle by Tayler Munson saw him poke the loose puck over Lehr as he was falling to ground to give the Ice Dogs a 4-2 lead. Less than a minute after the Ice Dogs went up by two, the Bruins would respond as Sam Kauppila fired home a shot from right outside the crease to make it 4-3. With the clock ticking down in the 3rd period, it would be Jay Dickman again to came to the aid of the Bruins as the forward fired a wrist shot from the top of the circle, which beat Aldridge over the should to tie the game at 4-4 and send Game 1 into overtime.
Five minutes into overtime, it was the Ice Dogs who would take advantage of a face-off win as the original shot was saved by Lehr, but the rebound was deposited in the back of the net by Munson for his second goal of the game and the overtime-winner. Aldridge made 31 saves in the win, while Lehr made 29 saves in the loss.
Game 2 of the three-game series is Saturday night at 7:30pm.