FAIRBANKS—Fairbanks Ice Dogs coach Trevor Stewart says he doesn’t know a whole lot about the Corpus Christi Ice Rays heading into tonight’s North American Hockey League game at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
But he does know one thing for sure — the Ice Rays will be ready to play when they hit the ice.
“This is going to be their first experience in Alaska, so they are going to be excited,” Stewart said earlier this week. “They beat Amarillo last week, so we know they are capable of beating anyone in the league. It’s going to be a good test for us.”
Amarillo was the last undefeated team in the NAHL when the Ice Rays skated to a 3-2 overtime win against the Bulls on Saturday night. The Ice Rays never trailed in that game.
The Ice Dogs and Ice Rays will meet for the first time at 7:30 tonight and again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Although the Ice Rays (4-7-3) will enter the Dog Pound for the first time, one of their players will be on familiar ground tonight.
Joe Ginley, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound forward, played high school hockey for the Monroe Catholic Rams in Fairbanks before joining the junior ranks. Ginley has two goals and four assists in 13 games for the Ice Rays this season.
Former Ice Dogs forward Rudy Sulmonte also plays for the Ice Rays and is the team’s second leading scorer with six goals and seven assists in 14 games.
The Ice Dogs (11-3-0) haven’t played since sweeping a three-game series from the Fresno Monsters two weeks ago.
Stewart said his team has used the break to work on the little things and to try and become a better hockey team with each practice.
“We’ve been focusing on what we need to do be get better, and now we’ll start focusing on what we need to do to have a successful weekend against Corpus Christi,” Stewart said Wednesday afternoon.
“We put more emphasis on special teams and on getting our competitive level up and hopefully those things will carry over into the weekend.”
Stewart said the two-week break came at a good time for the Ice Dogs.
“It gave us a chance to get our batteries recharged,” the second-year coach said. “I’ve noticed a little more excitement and jump in our step as the weekend gets closer.”
Kyle Lee is the Ice Dogs leading scorer through 14 games this season with five goals and nine assists for 14 points. Doug Rose is next on the list with five goals and eight assists for 12 points, while Garret Clemment as six goals and six assists for 12 points. Devin Loe is the only other Ice Dog in double figures with six goals and four assists for 10 points.
All but one Ice Dogs skater has scored at least one point.
“Everyone is chipping in, so that’s a good thing,” Stewart said. “I think we’re capable of more offense and it’s just a matter of getting more experience and figuring out different ways to put the puck in the net.”
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.