Despite falling into a 5-1 hole as late as the third period, the Austin Bruins battled back but ultimately ran out of time, falling to the Ice Dogs 5-4 on Thursday night.
For the first game of a three-in-three, the Bruins trekked up to Marshall, MN, for a showdown against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. It was the first time the two teams have met since 2016, and it didn’t start out in favor of the visiting Bruins. Midway through the opening frame, Fairbanks managed to score back-to-back goals only 37 seconds apart to take the 2-0 lead. The tallies came off the sticks of Mason Plante and Jake Hale, respectively, for each of the forward’s second goals of the season.
In the second period, the Ice Dogs continued to add to their lead. Defensemen Andrew Garby and Jasper Lester each scored on the power-play, the Ice Dogs first two, man advantages of the night, and the Bruins found themselves in a 4-0 hole by midway through the second. That spelled the end of the night for Bruins starting goaltender Hudson Hodges who was replaced by Tyler Shea. Austin struggled to score on the power-play, including a 5-on-3 which lasted 53 seconds in the middle period, but they cracked the goose egg late in the second while even strength. Barrett Brooks buried his team-leading fifth goal of the season when Garrett Dahm found Brooks hanging out back-door for the easy one-two-punch. With the goal coming late in the third, Austin had some momentum going into the second intermission despite trailing 4-1.
Fairbanks, playing on their first home game of the season in Marshall, increased their lead to 5-1 a little over three minutes into the final frame with their third power-play goal of the night. That’s when the Bruins mounted the comeback. Garrett Dahm orchestrated another goal, this time finding Reggie Millette in the slot who redirected a pass through the five-hole of Fairbanks goaltender Kayden Hargraves. Eleven minutes later, Jens Richards pulled even with Barett Brooks for the team lead in goals when he rifled a shot far-side past Hargraves to make it 5-3. What happened next is nothing short of incredible. Only nine seconds after Richards lit the lamp, John Lundy found a loose puck lying behind Hargraves and slammed it home for the Bruins fourth goal of the night to make it 5-4 with 3:39 remaining in the final period. Despite their best efforts and the extra attacker, the Bruins couldn’t find the game-tying goal and the game went to Fairbanks, 5-4.
It was the second time in as many games that the Bruins battled back from a deficit of 3+ goals, but the black-and-gold are still looking for their first victory of the very young 2021 calendar year. With the loss to Fairbanks, Austin falls to 4-6-2-1 on the season while the Ice Dogs improve to 6-6-0-0. Hudson Hodges was handed the loss, while Kayden Hargraves backstopped the Ice Dogs to the win. The two teams will meet again on Wednesday, February 3, for a meeting in Austin.
Up next for the Bruins, they continue their three-in-three with the lone home game, a fight with the Chippewa Steel on Friday night at Riverside Arena. On Saturday, the Bruins head to Cloquet for a rematch of last Sunday’s game against the Wilderness.