FAIRBANKS- The first place Fairbanks Ice Dogs remain in the Golden Heart City, facing the Maine Nordiques this weekend at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. The Dogs are unscathed in 2020, winners of seven straight, a streak that dates back to last decade and includes a sweep of the very team they face this weekend. Puck drops at 7:30 both nights, with TDL Staffing on hand Friday, giving away an Apple Watch, and Alaska Airlines with airfare for two on Saturday.
The Dogs are coming off a sweep of the New Mexico Ice Wolves, in which they won 4-3 in OT on Friday and 5-0 on Saturday. Mattias Sholl collected his league leading 21st win of the season in the opener, while Austin Ryman pitched the fifth shutout of his rookie campaign to finish off the Wolves. Oliver Kjaer enjoyed a 5-point weekend that included the OT game-winner on Friday. The NAHL on Monday named the ‘Great’ Dane its Bauer Midwest Division Top Star.
Jack Johnston and Matt Koethe have jousted for the team scoring lead all season, and it remains close. Koethe currently leads the Dogs with 37 points off 13 goals and 24 assists, with Johnston just a point back, producing a 16-20-36 scoring line. Kjaer’s line is identical to that of Johnston, but with 10 fewer games under his belt, the native of Esbjerg, Denmark leads the team, scoring 1.2 points per game.
Also noteworthy, Johnston and Koethe are tied for the league lead in shorthanded goals with three apiece.
Ironman Sholl leads the league in minutes played, logging 1928 minutes between the pipes for the Dogs this season. He ranks in the top 10 among league goaltenders in both save percentage (8) and goals against average (7). Ryman has performed in near flawless fashion when called upon. The Fairbanks native is 7-1-0-0 in eleven games, with five of those wins coming by way of shutout; that’s tied for third best in the NAHL.
The Ice Dogs lead the NA Midwest Division with 59 points through 40 games. The Kenai River Brown Bears are 10 points back of the Dogs, and Chippewa trails KRB by seven points. However, the Steel still have seven games in hand over the Dogs and Bears. The Minnesota Magicians currently hold fourth place, and the final playoff spot in the division.
The Nordiques are also in a playoff battle, currently holding fifth place, just three points back of fourth place Maryland in the East Division. Noah Kane leads Maine with 46 points on the season, which ranks fourth in the NAHL. He is the cousin of NHL all-star Patrick Kane. Please give him a warm welcome to the Dip this weekend.