Ice Dogs steamroll Blizzard at Showcase

By Danny Martin, DMARTN@NEWSMINER.COM

Sep 23, 2017 Updated Sep 23, 2017

FAIRBANKS — The statistics in the North American Hockey League Showcase are a good indication that Fairbanks was happy to trade for Caleb Hite.

Hite scored twice and had an assist on Friday night in a 5-1 win over the Brookings Blizzard that put the Ice Dogs at 3-0 in the season-opening tournament at Schwan’s Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota.

Hite’s efforts were part of the Ice Dogs’ 42-21 advantage in shots against the Blizzard, who were unbeaten after the first two days of the Tier II junior A league’s season-opening tournament.

Hite, a first-year Ice Dogs forward from Grand Rapids, Michigan came to Fairbanks through a trade with Midwest Division rival Minnesota Magicians for a draft pick.

 He registered at least a point in the first three games of the Showcase, giving him five points in Schwan’s Super Rink. Hite provided a goal and an assist in Wednesday’s 3-1 win over the Magicians and he had an assist Thursday in a 4-2 win over the Corpus Christi IceRays, of Texas.

“He’s just been a very steady player,’’ Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said by cellphone on Friday.

“He’s a smart player who works hard, and he’s got some sneaky skills,’’ Stewart added. “That’s the reason we traded for him, and he’s been really good.”

The Ice Dogs got a goal and two assists from Samuel Ruffin, and fellow veteran fowards Erkka Vanska and Tanner Schachle contributed a goal apiece. Veteran goaltender Josh Benson denied 20 shots in his second start of the Showcase.

“Our guys were moving qaround quite well,’’ Stewart said. “They were very hard on pucks and they won some some battles.

“Our guys were going into the tourgh areas, and that bodes well for us moving foward in the development of this team,’’ Stewart added.

Vanska and Hite gave Fairbanks a 2-0 lead in the first period.

Vanska found the back of the net at 4:59 with help from Robert Blueger, who’s had an assist in all three games in Blaine. Hite was aided by Ruffin at 18:27 of the opening period.

Hite was set up again by Ruffin at 2:17 of the second period. After Brookings made it 3-1 at 7:06 of the second, Ruffin scored with helpers from Hite and Hunter Wendt at the 11:16 mark.  The assist was Wendt’s fifth point of the tournament and the season.

Schachle, with his first goal of the season, sealed the win at 4:17 of the third off an assist from veteran defenseman Nolan Schaeffer, who had an assist in each of the first three games.

Schachle had a point for the third straight game, as he contributed assists against Minnesota and Corpus Christi.

Cameron Teamer scored for the first time this season for the Blizzard. Teamer’s goal at 7:06 of the second was set up by Brendan Aird and Parker Revering.

Ben Robataille recorded 37 saves for Brookings, of the Central Division.

The Ice Dogs conclude the Showcase with a game at 10 a.m. AKDT today against the Topeka RoadRunners, of Kansas.

Topeka, of the South Division, has gone winless in Blaine. The Roadrunners fell 5-2 to the Johnstown (Pennsylvania) Tomahawks on Wednesday; 6-1 to the New Jersey Titans on Thursday; and 5-4 to the Minot (North Dakota) Minotauros on Friday.

Today’s Fairbanks-Topeka game can be seen at a watch party for the Ice Dogs at Finish Line Restaurant in the LaQuinta Inn and Suites, 4920 Dale Road.

Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.