Forward Robert Blueger of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs is nothing if not opportunistic.
Blueger, in his second season with Fairbanks, scored two power-play goals in 22 seconds during the second period on Saturday. The 190-pound 19-year-old finished with a hat trick while leading the Ice Dogs to a 5-2 victory and a two-game series sweep of the Bismarck Bobcats at the VFW Sports Center.
The game was tied 1-1 when things got crazy late in the second period. Six penalties in a span of 52 seconds, five of them on the Bobcats, set the stage, and Blueger took advantage, scoring with a two-man edge from low inside the right circle at 15:39 and repeating from almost the same spot at 17:31.
Up 3-1, the Ice Dogs never looked back. Bismarck got no closer than two goals the rest of the way.
Blueger who notched his first three goals of the season on Saturday, earned his first hat trick in junior hockey. He said goals aren't his primary aim, but said the idea of a hat trick occurred to him after he lit the light the second time.
"It's in the back of your mind a little bit, but at the same time you've got to focus on the main thing -- winning the game," he said.
Blueger also pointed out that multi-goal games don't occur in vacuum.
"It's great, but my teammates made some great plays for me," he said.
With the victory Fairbanks, a member of the North American Hockey League's Midwest Division, improved to 5-1-0. The Bobcats, of the Central Division. dipped to 2-4.
Although he's pleased with the fast start, Blueger said caution is in order.
"Yes, we're doing well, but at the same time we started out well last year and kind of went into a slump. We've got to keep up the intensity," he said.
The Bobcats return to action next weekend, visiting Cloquet, Minn., for a Friday-Saturday series with the Minnesota Wilderness. Bismarck's next home series is Oct. 13-14 with Kenai River.