FAIRBANKS—The summer break for hockey season is over for coach Trevor Stewart and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
The Ice Dogs, who play in the Junior A, Tier II North American Hockey League, open training camp on Sunday in preparation for the season-opener against the Odessa Jackalopes on Sept. 12 at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn.
The Ice Dogs kick off the eight-month season today with their annual golf tournament at the Fairbanks Golf Course.
Starting Sunday, the Ice Dogs will practice every day at 9:30 a.m. through Friday, with the exception of Monday when they start at 9 a.m. Scrimmages are planned for 5:30 p.m. Sunday and 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Practices and scrimmages are open to the public.
Stewart will welcome 26 players to camp on Sunday morning.
“First off we have to pick the 25 guys who are best suited to help us be competitive right away,” Stewart said. “The will have to get them into the roles to enable us to be a good hockey team.”
The Ice Dogs will be younger than the past two season when they won the Robertson Cup in 2011 and lost in the semifinals in 2012.
The seven returning players are goalie Steve Perry, defensemen Doug Rose and Nick Hinz and forwards Garret Clement, Jakob Romo, Logan Wendling and Colton Wolter.
“We’ll be younger and less experienced but they are all pretty good hockey players,” Stewart said. “That’s important in determining who will be an impact player and who won’t be an impact player.”
The Ice Dogs will play a 58-game schedule this year. Fairbanks will play in the four-team West Division with the Wenatchee Wild, Fresno Monsters and Kenai River Brown Bears.
The Alaska Avalanche of Anchorage were sold and moved to Johnstown, Pa., and Dawson Creek, British Columbia, is no longer in the league.
The Ice Dogs play the Brown Bears 16 times, with each team hosting four two-game series. Fairbanks will play Wenatchee and Fresno 12 times each, with each series being a three-game set.
Fairbanks also has four home-and-home two-game series with the Janesville Jets, Springfield Jr. Blues, Wichita Falls Wlidcats and Corpus Christi IceRays.
In addition to playing Odessa in the first game of the showcase, the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings, Bismarck Bobcats and Michigan Warriors at the Showcase to kick off the season.
The Ice Dogs first home game is Oct. 5 against the Wenatchee Wild at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.