The North American Hockey League announced 16 Midwest Division postseason awards Wednesday. Nine of them went to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
The 26 head coaches of the Tier II junior A league voted for the division awards. The complete lists of the recipients in the Midwest, East, South and Central divisions is available at www.nahl.com.
It also was the second day of postseason accolades for the NAHL, which on March 19 canceled the remained of its season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ice Dogs’ haul of the Midwest Division awards comprised five for players, one for head coach Trevor Stewart, one for general manager Rob Proffitt and one for the organization itself.
“The most awesome part for me today about those awards is the players. Those are the guys who put in the work; not only the ones on the list,” Proffitt, who received Midwest Division General Manager of the Year, said by phone Wednesday night.
The list to which Proffitt alluded included Mattias Sholl as Midwest Division Most Valuable Player and Goaltender of the Year.
“I was pretty excited, of course,” Sholl said by phone. “I was actually sitting with my family (when he learned of the awards) at some unfortunate times, with a family member passing.
“It was some positivity and good news for a change at that moment. It was really good to hear that (awards) for myself and my family, and for everybody.”
The 19-year-old Hermosa Beach, California, resident finished seventh among NAHL netminders with a 1.99 goals against average.
In 41 games this season, Sholl compiled a 29-8-1-2 record with a .924 saves percentage and three shutouts.
“Our team this year had a slow start but over a few months, we found our groove,” Sholl said. “With our d-corps (defensemen) that we had this year, over time the young guys just started to figure out the league, basically.
“Just playing behind them, I just tried to give them as much confidence as I possibly could and vice versa. So we just tried to build off each other from the start of the year and we found a really good chemistry between each other.
“Playing goalie for those guys was a lot easier because they were helping me out every step of the way.”
Matt Koethe gained a spot Wednesday on the All-Midwest Division Team as a forward and Dylan Abbott joined him as a defenseman among the All-Midwest honorees.
Koethe, from Minnetonka, Minnesota, led the Ice Dogs and ranked 16th in the league in scoring with 27 goals and 24 assists for 51 points in 52 games.
Abbott, from Wasilla, led Ice Dogs defensemen in scoring and ranked 10th on the team with 27 points from three goals and 24 assists in 50 games.
Adam Eisele, was voted as the Midwest Division Rookie of the Year one day after the forward was voted to the first team of the All-NAHL Rookie Team. Ice Dogs defenseman Tim Erkkila was a second-team honoree Monday on the league’s all-rookie team.
Eisele, from Lake Elmo, Minnesota, was Fairbanks’ fourth-leading scorer this season with 18-25-43 totals in 51 games.
Erkkila, from Brighton, Michigan, contributed 18 points (two goals and 16 assists) in 49 games in his first season with the Ice Dogs. He finished third in scoring among Fairbanks’ defenseman and 13th overall.
Stewart, the recipient of the Midwest Division Coach of the Year honor Wednesday, guided the Ice Dogs to the top of the Midwest standings with a 38-11-1-2 record for 79 points.
The ninth-year Ice Dogs head coach and Elk River, Minnesota, native attributed his honor to others in the Ice Dogs organization.
“First and foremost, I’d just like to make a comment about all of our players who were nominated and elected as being able to represent our division,” Stewart said by phone.
“It’s easy for a coach to get recognition when you’re surrounded by good people, and more importantly, good hockey players, as well.
“I think that kind of goes hand in hand — the better players and people you’re around, the more recognition you’re going to get as a coach. I just feel it’s attributed to that.”
Stewart also commended the four players who were honored Wednesday.
The strength of our team was our team and the depth of our team,” Stewart said. “We certainly could have players match up with anybody and we were comfortable throwing whomever over the boards (putting players in a game).
Those players who were nominated and selected certainly deserve all that recognition and they’re big parts of our team.
“They once again set a high standard for what it means to be an Ice Dog. So we’re very proud of them, and we look forward as their career, progress and develop.”
Proffitt said his Midwest Division General Manager of the Year honor and the Ice Dogs’ Organization of the Year award for the division also were the results of the contributions of many people.
“Organization of the Year, that’s just a direct result of this community, the Big Dipper (Ice Arena), our fans, sponsors, volunteers, billet families. This list goes on and on,” Proffitt said.
“That’s what that’s honoring. Teams come up here and say, ‘Holy cow, look at this product that this community has, the Big Dipper has.’”
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.