FAIRBANKS — A little battered and beat up, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs are hoping that one more round of home cooking will be a good thing.
The Ice Dogs wind up a 12-game North American Hockey League homestand with a pair of games against the intrastate rival Kenai River Brown Bears at 7:30 tonight and Saturday at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
“We’re feeling good about the opportunity to play at home this weekend, before heading back out on the road again,” coach Trevor Stewart said Thursday afternoon.
The Ice Dogs are without four regulars heading into tonight’s first game of the 16-game ERA Alaska Cup Series.
Goaltender Steve Perry is out indefinitely with an upper body injury, forward Jakob Romo is out with a broken hand, defenseman Curran Klein is sidelined with a lower body injury and defenseman Dalton Spicer has been on the injured list for most of the season.
“Still we’re in good spirits and ready to play,” Stewart said.
Goaltender Nick Stuart of Philadelphia, who was playing for the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings, has joined the Ice Dogs and will join Kevin Aldridge between the pipes for the Ice Dogs.
“Every time Kevin has gone in there this season he’s competed and battled,” Stewart said. “He’s definitely going to get more opportunities now, but I don’t think there will be any added pressure.”
Even though third-place Kenai River (8-7-3) is seven points behind the second-place Ice Dogs (13-5-0) in the NAHL West Division standings, the Brown Bears have scored more goals than Fairbanks so far this season.
“They’ve got good goaltending and good depth up front,” Stewart said of the Brown Bears. “They have a couple different dimensions to their offensive attack.”
Kenai River is led by forward Matt Siedel who has 9 goals and 13 assists for 22 points in 18 games. Forward Lucas Kohls has eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points. Four other Brown Bears have 10 or more points.
Fairbanks has seven players with 10 or more points, led by Devin Loe with 10 goals and eight assists for 18 points and Kyle Lee with 6 goals and 10 assists for 16 points.
Tonight’s meeting is the first game of the 16-game ERA Alaska Cup Series.
“It’s always great when you’re playing for hardware against your intrastate rival,” Stewart said. “It’s an added bonus for this level of competition.”
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.