FAIRBANKS — Seven players, in four rounds, comprised the selections for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Tuesday in the North American Hockey League Draft.
Two right wings and two right defensemen were among the choices for the Ice Dogs, the Midwest Division regular-season and playoff champions and Robertson Cup semifinalist in 2017-18. The states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota and the countries of Sweden and the Czech Republic were represented among the team’s picks.
“I think we mostly like their potential,’’ Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said by phone Tuesday night. “A couple of guys are established with playing juniors. Mostly, there’s players with a lot of room for growth, a lot of room for us to work with and create development.”
Some of the Ice Dogs’ choices were scouted at pre-draft camps on May 18-20 in Mount Clemens, Michigan, and on Friday through Sunday in El Segundo, California.
About 205 players were selected by the 24 teams in the Tier II junior A league’s 16-round draft Tuesday.
Players eligible for the draft were younger than 21 as of Dec. 31 of this year and were not listed on an NAHL roster in 2017-18 or were part of an NAHL team but played less than 10 regular-season and/or playoff games last season. Also eligible were players who didn’t accept a tender from an NAHL team before the draft.
Goaltender Nathan Reid, from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, was the Ice Dogs’ first pick and 24th overall in the draft.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound netminder played last season with the Detroit Victory Honda 18U team.
“We lost Josh Benson and Logan Neaton is expected to come back and carry the mail for us,” Stewart said. “He (Reid) is established at the midget level and he’s ready to come into junior hockey and compete.”
Benson, who played in 10 of the Ice Dogs’ 11 postseason games, completed his junior hockey eligibility last season and is headed to the NCAA Division I hockey program at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Benson ranked third in the NAHL with a 1.91 goals against average during the regular season, while Neaton tied for fifth with a 2.00 GAA. Neaton appeared in two postseason contests.
The Ice Dogs selected a pair of right wings in the second round — Pavel Karasek with the 45th overall pick and Martin Jonsson three picks later.
The 5-10 and 161-pound Karasek, a 17-year-old from Kladno, Czech Republic, played last season with the Springfield Pics 16U, of Springfield, Masschusetts. The 20-year-old Jonsson hails from Jonkoping, Sweden. The 5-10, 185-pounder skated last season for the HV71 Junior team in his home country.
“Pavel Karasek is a talented young forward who’ll hopefully compete for substantial minutes and get the attention of a Division I school,’’ Stewart said. “We needed some strength up the middle, and by having an experienced game in Sweden, Jonsson will bring that to us.”
The Ice Dogs took another Jonkoping native, 20-year-old right defenseman Simon Westlund, in the third round, 72nd overall. The 6-3, 178-pound blueliner spent last season with the Malmo IF Redhawks junior program.
“He’s a big body who can skate well,’’ Stewart said.
Fairbanks made three selections in the fourth round through trades.
The Ice Dogs traded with Midwest rival Minnesota Magicians for Andrew Garby, taking the 17-year-old right defenseman from Canton, Michigan, as the 84th overall pick. The 5-9, 165-pounder played last season with Plymouth High School in Michigan.
“He’s a right-handed defenseman with a lot of upside. He’s a younger player who can develop over time,’’ Stewart said.
With the 88th overall selection, the Ice Dogs obtained 17-year-old George-Boyd Aldridge in a trade with the Minnesota Wilderness. The 5-foot-10, 164-pound forward from Lake Orion, Michigan played last season with Detroit Little Caesars 16U and is a cousin of former Ice Dogs goaltender
“He’s a nice player, and we see him playing a couple of games here and there for us (in the upcoming season),’’ Stewart said. “Hopefully, he’ll be moving up in our lineup the following season.”
After a trade with the reigning Robertson Cup champions Shreveport (Louisiana) Mudbugs, Fairbanks made 17-year-old left wing Garrett Worth the 95th overall selection and their last pick of the draft.
The 5-81/4 and 170-pounder played last season for Duluth East High School in his hometown of Duluth, Minnesota.
The Ice Dogs are scheduled to have training camps on July 5-8 in Prior Lake, Minnesota, and on Aug. 20-23 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
The complete NAHL draft is available at www.nahl.com.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: @newsminersports.