Laker Aldridge arrived in the Interior a year ago and started his first season of Tier II junior A hockey with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, of the North American Hockey League.
“The biggest thing last year was I was just happy to be here; but this year, I’m looking to contribute,” Aldridge said after Wednesday’s practice at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
The native of Lake Orion, Michigan is still happy. He’s also been a contributor to an Ice Dogs team that’s in first place in the Midwest Division heading into a nondivision series against the New Mexico Wolves at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
The 6-foot, 170-pound left wing is Fairbanks’ seventh-leading scorer with six goals and 17 assists for 23 points in 34 games. It’s more than double his 6-4-10 scoring line in 27 contests last season.
“He’s a player that it’s well known when he gets the puck in or around the net, that he’s going to bring to the front of the net,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said Wednesday at the Big Dipper.
“I think our players have from that and have gone to those areas as second and third layers of attack, and found some success of putting the puck in the net.”
“We need him to continue to do that,” Stewart said of Aldridge, “and continue for him to round out his 200-foot (length of the ice sheet) game, and he’s going to be an excellent player.”
Aldridge skates on a forward line with center Mason Plante and veteran right wing Tyler Deweese. The linemates rank seventh through ninth in scoring for the Ice Dogs, who are 26-9-1-2 for 55 points in the Midwest standings.
Deweese, a former West Valley High School standout, ranks eighth with 11-10-21 totals in 38 games and Plante, a native of Marshall, Minnesota, has a 9-12-21 scoring line in his first season with the Ice Dogs.
“You just take the puck to the net,” Aldridge said of the line’s chemistry. “We’ve been getting lucky bounces. Every time we take it to the net, good things happen for us.”
When the Ice Dogs face the Wolves on Saturday night, Aldridge also will be playing on his 19th birthday.
“It should be fun, I’m excited for it,” he said. “We’re happy to be back and we’re excited to be back in front of our fans.”
Friday’s game against New Mexico will be sponsored by MAC Federal Credit Union.
MAC will be handing out coupons to fans and there will be a sign-up table in the east end of the Big Dipper lobby for a drawing for a dice game with prizes.
Four people’s names will drawn to participate in the dice game on the Big Dipper ice during the first intermission.
“On the dice, they’re going to have all sorts of prizes,” Ice Dogs general manager Rob Proffitt said by phone Wednesday, “from Arctic Man merchandise to Ice Dogs merchandise to cash from MAC Federal Credit Union.”
Arctic Man is an event each April which involves downhill skiers pulled by snowmachines on courses in the HooDoo Mountains near Paxson.
If a participant in the dice game rolls four dice with four dollar signs, the person wins $3,000.
Some MAC paraphernalia will be thrown into the audience during intermissions.
Saturday’s game is sponsored by Doyon Limited, an Alaska Native regional corporation with more than 12.5-million acres of land and more than 20,000 shareholders.
There will be giveaways and promotions Saturday, but Proffitt said the Ice Dogs also will be recognizing Doyon.
“They have over 20,000 shareholders, and quite honestly, two of the shareholders are playing on the Ice Dogs,” Proffitt said while alluding to Ice Dogs defenseman Trenton Woods and center Nicholas Ostbloom.
“It’s (Doyon) a really good connection, a really good partner. We’re just going to talk about all the facts, and how much they give to this community. It’s amazing and I just want to make sure to highlight how lucky we are as a community to have Doyon here, whether it be in jobs or the giving that they give to all the different nonprofit organizations.”
Tomas Sholl, the brother of Ice Dogs goaltender Mattias Sholl, was called up Wednesday from the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads to the American Hockey League’s Texas Stars.
Idaho and Texas are minor-league affiliates of the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars.
Before his call-up, Tomas Sholl had a 17-5-4 record with a 2.26 goals against average, .921 saves percentage and three shutouts for the Steelheads. The 26-year-old goalie also led the ECHL in wins and minutes played (1,567).
Tomas Sholl also played in the NAHL for the now-defunct Fresno (California) Monsters from 2011-13.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.