Traditional road trip to open season.

CLOQUET, MINN- The Fairbanks Ice Dogs saw a 2-0 series lead in last season’s Robertson Cup Playoffs vanish as they dropped three straight to the Wilderness in Minnesota to be eliminated in the first round for the second time in as many postseasons. The 2022-23 version of the Ice Dogs open this season in the very barn where last season ended, the home of the Minnesota Wilderness.

“I think it’s the best thing that could have happened to this team,” said Dave Allison, who enters his first full season as the Ice Dogs head hockey coach. “Going there right of the bat with a chance to get that bad taste out of our mouth. For the returning players we have to get rid of that taste and move on.”

“We’ll be playing with a chip on our shoulder,” third year forward Cameron Ricotta said.

The 2-game series against the Wilderness opens Friday at 7:15 p.m. (CDT), with face-off in game two set for the same time Saturday night.

The Ice Dogs return 11 veterans from a season ago, and added 17 players, a mix of veterans and rookies, to fill out the initial 28 man roster. Assistant Coach Dakota Bell enters his first season behind the Ice Dogs’ bench and is impressed with the guys that made the team out of training camp.

“it was a grind and it was a battle, but I thought everyone came through it pretty well,” Bell said. “We’re real excited about where we are at right now as a team.”

The Ice Dogs remain in the Lower 48 through the month of September and into early October, ahead of the home opener Oct. 7. The Dogs compete in the annual NAHL Showcase Tournament Sept. 14-17, where they will face Aberdeen, New Mexico, Bismarck and Odessa (coached by former Ice Dogs’ assistant Scott Deur). The Dogs close out the trip with a pair of series, facing the Wisconsin Windigo and the Springfield Jr. Blues on consecutive weekends.