The Fairbanks Ice Dogs gave the Topeka Pilots all they could handle, and more, on Friday night.
Topeka (17-20-7) had a tough time against a talented Fairbanks squad, falling 4-0 at Big Dipper Ice Arena.
The Pilots trailed only 1-0 after one period, but were outshot 23-4 in the first 20 minutes.
By the end of the second period, the Ice Dogs had expanded the lead to 4-0 and the shots on goal deficit had increased to 36-8.
Trying to cut into the Fairbanks lead, the Pilots garnered nine shots on goal in the final frame, but the damage had been done, as Topeka could not solve goaltender Mattias Sholl.
Sholl ended the night with 17 saves, earning the shutout, his second of the season. Sholl’s counterpart, Emil Gransoe, stopped 39 of 43 shots for the Pilots, as he fell to 13-13-4 for the season.
Forward Tanner Edwards opened the scoring at 7:07 of the first period, beating Gransoe with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle for his eight goal of the year. Edwards finished the evening with a goal and an assist.
In the second period, the Ice Dogs quickly doubled, then tripled, their lead. With goals from defenseman John Stampohar and forward Matt Koethe, Fairbanks quickly made it 3-0 less than five minutes into the second period.
Another defenseman added to the Fairbanks lead at 16:31 of the period. After the preliminary shot from forward Jack Johnston clanked off the right post, the rebound popped right out to defenseman Jake Borgida, who ripped a slapshot past Gransoe to make it 4-0.
In a relatively clean game, the Pilots did have two opportunities on the powerplay Friday, but they were not able to convert on either chance.
As they look to earn a series split, the Pilots will be back in action against the Ice Dogs again at 10:30 p.m. CST Saturday.