In one week, Fairbanks Ice Dogs defenseman Jake Borgida went from preparing to play for the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup to preparing for college hockey.
Borgida and the rest of the Ice Dogs battled the Aberdeen (South Dakota) Wings for the NAHL’s prized trophy on June 14. The Ice Dogs lost 2-1 in the title contest in the Fogerty Ice Arena in Blaine, Minnesota, about 18 miles from Borgida’s hometown of Minneapolis.
On Tuesday, Borgida was back home and preparing to be a student at Trinity College and help its men’s hockey team with battles against opponents in the upcoming season. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound blueliner recently committed to the NCAA Division III program in Hartford, Connecticut and the New England Small College Athletic Conference.
Borgida had been in contact for about a year with Matt Greason, who recently completed his eighth season as the Bantams head coach.
In March, the Bantams captured the NESCAC tournament title for the third time in the last four years and earned the program’s fifth conference regular-season title. Trinity lost to the University of New England in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament in Hartford.
“I feel like I have a really good connection with him (Greason),” Borgida said by phone Tuesday. “Their program has done very well in the NESCAC conference for the past five to 10 years since he’s been there. And the academics as well.
“I feel like it’s going to put me in a really good spot for after college. I can’t play hockey forever, but obviously make it and go as long as I can. I’d love this (Trinity) be a great fit and be able to do both there (academics and hockey).”
Borgida said he is considering working toward a prehealth degree at Trinity, and he’s looking at attending medical school after earning his bachelor’s degree.
He’ll be involved this summer with job shadowing a neurosurgeon at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
The Robertson Cup tournament was his last involvement with the Ice Dogs, though he was eligible for another season with the Tier II junior A program.
“I do have the extra year but I’ve decided to go to Trinity next year (this fall),” Borgida said. “After two years, I feel ready to move to the next level and I feel excited about it. I can’t thank the Ice Dogs enough for the opportunity I got to play there (Fairbanks).”
The Ice Dogs appreciated Borgida’s contributions in two seasons.
“He’s good skill set, he was great on the penalty kill and he’s got a really good stick,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said by phone Monday.
Borgida skated in all 10 postseason games this year for the Ice Dogs — three each in the Midwest Division semifinal and championship rounds, and four in the Robertson Cup National Tournament.
In the regular season, he contributed three goals and 14 assists for 17 points in 55 games. He posted 4-6-10 totals in 39 games in 2017-18.
“This season was great. We had a little bit of a slow start and people definitely counted us out from the beginning,” Borgida said.
“I think around the middle of the season, we started to figure out ways to stack wins together and get little streaks going, and just playing well as a team. I think our group this year was very close together and we had very good camaraderie off the ice, which definitely helped when we got to the playoffs.
“We knew what our goal was and where we wanted to get to.”
Greason knew about the Ice Dogs when he was originally in contact with Borgida.
“My coach at Trinity definitely talked about it. He knows the history of the program and their impact on the (Fairbanks) community, and what they do off the ice as well,” Borgida said. “On the ice, Stew does a great job of preparing us.
“I’ve had the opportunity to learn from him and grow on and off the ice as a person, which I’m very thankful for. It’s nice to be able to come from a program that’s as recognized. NCAA coaches understand the level of preparedness and opportunity you have to play for the Ice Dogs, and know that they’re going to get good players from this organization.”
Borgida is the second player from this season’s Ice Dogs roster to commit to a Division III program. Forward Ty Proffitt committed to the University of Wisconsin Superior.
Borgida also is the 10th Ice Dog from 2018-19 to make a college commitment.
Players from this season who committed to NCAA Division I programs were Dylan Abbott (Minnesota State), Parker Brown (Air Force Academy), Luke Mobley (Clarkson), Jax Murray (Arizona State), Jonny Sorenson (Minnesota), John Stampohar (Canisius College), and Noah Wilson and Luke Ciolli, both to Army.
Stewart said Borgida is going to develop well with the Bantams and at Trinity.
“He’s got a good frame and there’s a lot of room for development,” Stewart said. “Still, he’s going to be a great student athlete and be very successful in whatever he does after he’s done with school.”
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.