First responders are getting a tribute from the Fairbanks Ice Dogs this weekend.
The Ice Dogs, during their North American Hockey League home series against Midwest Division rival Janesville Jets, are wearing special jerseys to honor first responders.
The Ice Dogs and Jets, of Janesville, Wisconsin, face off at 7 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
The jerseys will be auctioned during intermissions each night.
Ice Dogs general manager Rob Proffitt noted the timing of the jerseys.
“It’s obviously Thanksgiving (week) and we’re playing on Thanksgiving Day. I thought it was a great time to give thanks to our first responders,” Proffitt said after Wednesday’s practice at the Big Dipper.
“I think sometimes you take it for granted the job they do and protect our citizens, especially in this community with the (winter) elements. They’re a pretty special crew all the way around.”
The Ice Dogs, during the series against the Jets, also will be fundraising for Shop with a Cop.
The program, coordinated by the National Police Foundation, rewards youth ages 5-18 with opportunities to purchase clothing and other necessities while shopping with a police officer. The monthly shopping trips are funded by local residents and businesses.
“After this is all done, we’ll put some smiles on some young people’s faces who aren’t as maybe fortunate enough to go Christmas shopping. They can go get a gift with a police officer,” Proffitt said.
Fire engines and law enforcement vehicles will be outside of the Big Dipper during the series.
“So people who drive by the rink and see all the fire trucks and (flashing emergency) lights up, it’s OK, you can still come in. There’s no problem at the Dipper,” Proffitt said lightheartedly.
Proffitt expressed gratitude to the Fairbanks Fire Department Union and the Fairbanks Police Employees Association and other first responders for their support and involvement in the weekend at the Big Dipper.
“Happy Thanksgiving to all,” he said.
The Ice Dogs are in second place in the Midwest Division at 14-8-0-2 for 30 points in the standings and the Jets hold third place at 11-11-1-0 for 23 points.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: @newsminersports.