On Tuesday, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs announced its picks for the 2020 North American Hockey League Entry Draft. Of the seven picks, three are from Alaska and two are local to Fairbanks. Ice Dogs Head Coach Trevor Stewart said that the picks, which focus on defense positions, will bolster the team over the next two seasons.
“We’re just excited about these players coming up here to Fairbanks,” he said.
The seven draft picks are as follows: Scott McKenzie, of Calgary, Alberta; William Renfrew, of Fairbanks; Ryan Keyes, of Fairbanks; Colton Gerken-Roberto, of Anchorage; Samuel Berry, of Saint Louis Park, Minnesota; Carter Rose, of Brasher Falls, New York; and Kayden Hargreaves, of Westminster, Colorado.
“In the draft we ended up picking two forwards, three defensemen and two goal tenders,” said Stewart. “We had a number of forwards who were on our list previously, so we had the opportunity to draft a couple of defensemen for this year and a couple of defensemen for the following seasons. So these picks work, not only for this coming season, but the following season as well.”
The two forwards are McKenzie and Renfrew. Last month, the Ice Dogs held its Main Camp in Wisconsin, where a horde of young players traveled to train and show off their potential. Stewart said that the Canadian-born McKenzie, the Ice Dogs’ first pick on Tuesday, caught his eye at the camp.
“He was at our camp last month and he performed really well,” Stewart said. “He’s going to add a lot of energy to our line-up.”
Stewart is likewise excited to have the locally raised Renfrew, saying, “He’s going to be in a situation where he’s going to find a lot of room to develop.”
The other local player in the list, Ryan Keyes is one of the two goaltenders picked in the draft. Stewart praised Keyes’ abilities and potential saying he’s “a big kid, who’s really coming into his own.
“We’re excited to see what he’s going to do this upcoming season,” he added.
Next on the draft list is another Alaskan: Gerken-Roberto, of Anchorage. According to Stewart, Gerken-Roberto is a young player and he, too, was at last month’s Main Camp, where he “performed very well.”
The final three picks were defensemen Samuel Barry and Carter Rose and goaltender Carter Rose, who “had a really good year in his league,” according to Stewart.
“Five of our seven picks were on the ice with us less than a month ago at our main camp in Wisconsin, so we were able to see them in-person leading up to the draft. That was big for us, and very encouraging, just knowing what we’re getting out of those picks,” Steward said. “The other two picks are players we haven’t seen in a while, but who have a lot of potential and a lot of pedigree.”
Ice Dogs General Manager Rob Proffitt also expressed his excitement at having a number of locals among the draft picks.
“Always exciting to have Alaska kids, especially Fairbanks kids,” he said. “I think it was a special day for them and their families — and well deserved.”
Proffitt pointed out that the draft was inherently exciting because it was the first glimpse of “certainty” the team’s had in a while.
“All the uncertainty, with COVID-19 ending the season short last year, it was just nothing but positivity yesterday with the draft, overall,” he said. “Again, it’s the most certain thing we’ve done in a while.”
Like Stewart, Proffitt said it was particularly gratifying to have picks who participated in last month’s Main Camp. He pointed out that it was the first hockey camp to take place in North America since the beginning of the pandemic and described the painstaking measures that were taken to keep the some 300 kids who attended safe. He added that having five kids from the camp join the team is a “pretty neat thing.”
“It’s probably the first time ever we’ve been able to take our first five picks straight from our camp,” he said.
The start date of the upcoming 24th season is still to be decided. Proffitt didn’t sound optimistic when asked if he knew any other details about how it might play out.
“It’s not going to be like normal in September,” he said. “That’s not what’s going to happen here.”
He did, however, remain upbeat when it came to discussing his new players and the training that will be going ahead.
“Time is our friend right now. And we want to use it,” he said. “We just want to ensure the safety of our players, number one, and, when we do get to playing hockey, we want the fans to be there.”
Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Ice Dogs General Manager Rob Proffitt.