FAIRBANKS — With three new faces in the lineup, Fairbanks coach Trevor Stewart hopes there will be more offensive pop when the Ice Dogs take on the Kenai River Brown Bears in the ERA Alaska Cup series tonight at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
Two former Ice Dogs — Max Birkinbine and Tayler Munson, of Fairbanks, — have returned to the roster after stints in the U.S. Junior Hockey League, while Lawrence Cornellier came on board from the Oddessa Jackalopes of the NAHL South Division.
“With the addition of the new players, once we get back on track I’m confident we can get things going offensively,” said Stewart, whose team has gone 0-3-2 in its last five games. “We’ve had our chances, we just haven’t been able to finish.”
The Ice Dogs will need to finish this weekend against the Brown Bears, who lead the 16-game ERA Alaska Cup series 5-3 heading into tonight’s 7:30 contest at the Big Dipper. The two teams battle again at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Before tonight’s game, the Fairbanks Hockey Hall of Fame will unveil the Hockey Week in Fairbanks ice sculpture and mascot in a ceremony at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Dipper.
Devin Loe and Garret Clemment continue to lead the Ice Dogs offensive attack, averaging nearly a point per game.
Loe has 22 goals and 20 assists for 42 points in 45 games, while Clemment has 21 goals and 20 assists for 41 points 46 games.
Steve Perry and Kevin Aldridge continue sharing the goaltending chores for Fairbanks.
Aldridge is 15-8-1 with a 2.39 goals against average and a .910 saves percentage. Perry is 14-6-2 with a 2.42 goals against average and a .903 saves percentage.
“Our defense has actually been playing pretty well,” Stewart said. “We’ve outshot our opponents in four of the last five games and pretty much limited their chances.
“It’s just that our opponents have taken advantage of their chances and we haven’t,” Stewart added.
Matt Seidel leads Kenai River with 17 goals and 16 assists for 33 points in 43 games, while Zach Lazzaro has 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points in 45 games.
Goaltender Marcus Zelzer is 6-1-2 since joining the team, with a 2.66 goals against average and .909 saves percentage.
Tickets for all Ice Dogs games are available in advance at Sport King, Play It Again Sports, Fort Wainwright, Eielson Air Force Base and the Fairbanks Community Museum.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.