FAIRBANKS- The Dogs are coming home. Riding a red-hot start to the new year, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs are set to make their 2020 debut at the Big Dipper Ice Arena on Jan. 17, hosting the New Mexico Ice Wolves in the opener of a 2-game series. Doors open at 6:30 and the puck drops at 7:30 each night.
The Dogs have won five straight games dating back to an overtime win over the Minnesota Magicians on Dec. 21. Their latest victim, the Northeast Generals.
The Dogs swept the Generals on the back of solid goaltending and swarming defensive zone coverage, winning 3-1 on Friday before blanking the Generals 4-0 on Saturday. Austin Ryman recorded the fourth shutout of his rookie campaign in the win.
Adam Eisele broke a 1-1 tie with a second period marker in Friday’s game. He is fourth on the Ice Dogs scoring list with 29 points off 10 goals and 19 assists. Mattias Sholl stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced to collect his 20th win of the season.
It was all Ice Dogs on Saturday. Line mates Mason Plante and Tyler Deweese combined for identical (1-2-3) scoring lines in the victory. Ryman stopped each of the 22 shots he faced in collecting the shutout. The Fairbanks native is 6-1 in net this season, with four of his six victories coming by way of shutouts.
Offensively, Jack Johnston and Matt Koethe have jousted for the team scoring lead all season. The pair of 20-year olds each have 35 points, with Johnston producing a 16-19-35 scoring line, while Koethe has 12 goals and 23 assists this season. Koethe leads the team, and the league with a +28 rating through 38 games. Meanwhile Oliver Kjaer is four back in the Ice Dogs’ scoring chase, but his 1.11 points per game is tops on the team.
With 55 points on the season, the Dogs have extended their lead in the NAHL Midwest Division to seven points over the Kenai River Brown Bears. The Chippewa Steel are 15 points out of first, but have played seven fewer games than the Dogs and Bears have. Janesville and Minnesota are deadlocked with 27 points, while the Springfield Jr. Blues are just two points back of them, residing in the division cellar.
MAC Federal Credit Union sponsors Friday’s game, tickets are available at fairbanksicedogs.com. It marks the beginning of a 7-game home stand that culminates the with annual Stick it to Cancer series Jan. 30 – Feb. 1.