Ice Dogs

Fairbanks Ice Dogs defenseman John Stampohar brings the puck up ice against the Chippewa (Wisconsin) Steel during a North American Hockey League game Jan. 17 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. Stampohar was among four recipients from the Ice Dogs with Midwest Division Season Awards on Tuesday.

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs, who are a win away from advancing to the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup National Tournament for second straight year, collected several of the league’s postseason awards Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday, the league’s 24 head coaches voted Ice Dogs forward Jonny Sorenson and goaltender Mattias Sholl were voted to the NAHL All-Rookie Team. 

NAHL head coaches also voted on the all-division teams, which were announced Tuesday.

Sorenson and Ice Dogs defenseman John Stampohar were honored twice on the All-Midwest Division Team. Each player was voted to the division team, and Sorenson received the Midwest Division Rookie of the Year honor and Stampohar was the recipient of the Defenseman of  the Year award for the six-team division.

Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart and general manager Rob Proffitt were the respective recipients of the Midwest Division Coach of the Year and General Manager of the Year awards.

Sorenson, from St. Louis Park, Minnesota, was the Ice Dogs’ leading scorer in the regular season with 17 goals and 39 assists for 56 points while playing in all of the team’s 60 games.

The University of Minnesota commit has four assists in five playoff games to share fourth place with Ty Proffitt and Tyler Deweese for fourth place among Fairbanks’ postseason scorers.

“He’s a big-time talent,” Stewart, by phone Tuesday, said of Sorenson. “He is a player who realizes he’s got some things to work on still.

“Everybody’s seen his talent and the University of Minnesota is a getting a heck of a player. He’s just committed; he’s on the ice first and he’s on the ice last, and that’s what you look for in a player.”

Stampohar, in his third season with the Ice Dogs, has contributed a goal and assist while playing all five postseason games so far for Fairbanks.

The Canisius College commit from Grand Rapids, Michigan generated 39 points (12 goals and 27 assists) in 58 games to finish as the Ice Dogs’ fifth-leading scorer in the regular season.

“He’s done a good job this year. He’s kind of minimizing mistakes and working hard,” Stampohar said. “We’re pumped up for him and that (division) recognition, and we’re pumped for him for where he go in the future.”

Stampohar’s cousin, who’s also named John, played for the Ice Dogs during 2010-11, when the team captured the program’s first of three Robertson Cups. The others were in 2014 and 2016. The younger John Stampohar stays with the older John Stampohar in Fairbanks.

Sholl, from Hermosa Beach, California, is second among NAHL netminders in the postseason with a 1.01 goals against average, 5-0-0-0 record, one shutout and a .957 saves percentage.

He was the league’s top goalie in the regular season with a 1.69 GAA to go with a 17-1-3-1 record, six shutouts and a .934 saves percentage.

“You look at his numbers not only from this year but years past, and he finds a way to put up good numbers, and he finds a way to win, especially this year,” Stewart said of Sholl, who appeared in 25 games in the regular season.

“He’s best suited in a situation like he is right now, where it’s just an opportunity he’s got to grab and he does that. He’s doing a great job and he’s starting to get some (NCAA) Division I attention. We’re pumped up for him, not only where he is now but where he can get to.”

Stewart and Proffitt were modest about their all-division honors Tuesday. Both have received their respective awards multiple times.

“It’s cool but I don’t really think anything of it,” Stewart said. “It’s just a sign I’m around good people, and obviously, good players.”

After an early-season struggle, Stewart and assistant coach Scott Deur guided the Ice Dogs to first place in the Midwest with a 37-16-3-4 record at the end of the regular season. 

“Early on, it was a little more of a struggle, and there were a lot of new faces, a lot of learning curves in the preseason,” Stewart said. “The guys have minimized that curve quite quickly and lately, it’s translating to success.

“And they’ve just done a good job of becoming a team together. Nothing to do with the coaches or things like that. (It’s) the guys kind of figuring things out by themselves and growing up and developing. We’re just kind of here as a support staff and monitoring their progress.”

Proffitt, by phone Tuesday, said he doesn’t keep track of the division’s general manager of the year awards he’s received.

“What’s most important is that it’s a reflection of our building, our fans, our sponsors, our coaches, our team,” Proffitt said, “and having those great people who volunteer for us and the office managers, etc. 

“It’s (award) a privilege but at the end of the day, it goes to the people you surround yourself with.” 

The complete all-rookie teams and all-division teams are available at www.nahl.com.

The league is set to announce several more honors today.

Today’s recognitions consists of the All-NAHL Teams, Most Valuable Player, Forward of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, Vaughn Goaltender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, General Manager of the Year, Executive of the Year, Organization of the Year, Academic Achievement Award, Leadership Award and Community Service Award.

Monday’s and Tuesday’s honors for the Ice Dogs were announced on the days the team traveled to play the Minnesota Magicians in Game 3 of the best-of-five Midwest Division Championship Series at the Richfield Ice Arena in Richfield, Minnesota.

Fairbanks won in the series’ first two games at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, 5-1 Friday and 6-2 Saturday.

Game 3 starts at 4:15 p.m. AKDT Friday and if the Ice Dogs win, they’ll sweep the series and return to the Robertson Cup National Tournament on May 10-14 at the Fogerty Ice Arena in Blaine, Minnesota. 

If Fairbanks loses Friday, Game 4 will be played at 4:05 p.m. AKDT Saturday. If the fifth and deciding game is needed, it will be played at the Richfield Ice Arena at 3 p.m. AKDT Sunday.

Viewing parties for any games in Richfield will be conducted in Fairbanks at the Finish Line Restaurant in the LaQuinta Inn and Suites, 4920 Dale Road off Airport Way.

Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.