FAIRBANKS- The 2019-2020 version of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs hockey team has won 75 percent of its games. However, it is yet to beat the Kenai River Brown Bears, going 0-2-0-1 in a November trip to the Kenai Peninsula.
There’s a chance to change that this weekend, as the Dogs welcome the Bears to the friendly confines of the Big Dipper Ice Arena for a 3-game series Thursday through Saturday. Puck drops at 7 p.m. for Thursday’s game, and 7:30 for both Friday and Saturday.
The matchup serves as the 9th annual Stick it to Cancer series. Sponsored by the Circle of Hope Campaign of the Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation, Stick it to Cancer honors survivors of cancer, brings awareness of local treatment and detection options, while also raising funds in support of the J. Michael. Carroll Cancer Center at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.
The Ice Dogs will wear special jerseys that GM Rob Proffitt will auction off during intermissions of the three games. The Ice Dog organization will donate a portion of the auction proceeds to the Circle of Hope Campaign. Circle of Hope representatives will be on-hand to pass out information and help the Ice Dogs honor three local survivors of cancer during pre-game drops of ceremonial pucks.
The Dogs come into the series on a 9-game winning streak, a stretch of wins that dates back to late December of 2019. The Dogs have twice swept the Maine Nordiques in that span, including wins of 5-2 and 6-2 last Friday and Saturday at the Dip.
Defenseman Lucas Erickson was dominant in the two wins. The NAHL on Monday took notice, Erickson the Bauer Midwest Division Top Star of the week. The St. Lawrence commit registered 5 points off 2 goals and 3 assists with a plus-6 rating in the sweep of Maine. Erickson missed over two months with a lower body injury, but has has 8 points, with a plus-10 rating, since returning on Jan. 10.
“It’s nice to have Lucas back in the line up and finding his form,” said Ice Dogs Head Coach Trevor Stewart. “Not only what he’s provided offensively, but he gives us options on the back end and provides leadership on the ice and in the locker room.”
Forwards Matt Koethe and Jack Johnston are again tied for the team scoring lead, each with 39 points. Oliver Kjaer is just one back with 38, and six Ice Dogs have 30 or more points on the season. Koethe’s plus-32 rating is tops in the North American Hockey League.
The Brown Bears come to Fairbanks 10-points back of the division leading Ice Dogs. Kenai River spent a good portion of the first half of the season on top of the Midwest, and have the second longest win streak of the season at 10 (11/1-11/19). The Dogs have won nine straight and lead the division with 63 points. The Cippewas Steel continue to lurk in third place, seven points back of the Brown Bears, with seven games in hand.