Ice Dogs

Ice Dogs forward Adam Eisele tries to beat Chippewa (Wisconsin) defenseman Luke Farthing to the puck Nov. 15 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena. Eisele scored the Ice Dogs’ first goal Thursday in a loss to the Jets in Janesville, Wis.

ERIC ENGMAN/NEWS-MINER FILE PHOTO

Fairbanks Ice Dogs forward Adam Eisele and defenseman Tim Erkkila were voted to the All-North American Hockey League Rookie Team, which was announced Tuesday.

The all-rookie team was voted on by the 26 head coaches of the Tier II junior A league.

Eisele, from Lake Elmo, Minnesota, was a first-team selection on the All-NAHL Rookie Team, and Erkkila, from Brighton, Michigan, was a second-team honoree. 

“Obviously, it’s pretty great news; I’m pretty excited,” Eisele said by phone Tuesday night. “It was nice to get some acknowledgment from the league for some of the things that I’ve done with the team this year.”

Eisele and Erkkila also were voted to the Midwest Division All-Rookie Team.

Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart, by phone Tuesday night, said Eisele and Erkkila were two players this season who really relished the situations they were put in for Fairbanks.

“Especially once they started gaining more ice time as the season progressed,” Stewart said. “We just saw a tremendous amount of development from day one to the end of the season — an unfortunate early end of the season.

“It’s (all-rookie team honors) well deserved for both of those players. Both of them have secured some college commitments.

“So we’re looking forward not only to what they brought to the Ice Dogs this year but the future and what they’re going to be able to bring to their college hockey programs.” 

The All-NAHL Rookie Team and the all-rookie teams for the Midwest, East, Central and South divisions were the first postseason honors announced by the league since it canceled the remainder of the season on March 17 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The complete All-NAHL Rookie Team and division all-rookie teams are available at www.nahl.com.

The remainder of the NAHL 2019-20 season awards will be announced later this week.

The other accolades are the All-NAHL Divisional Teams and Awards, All-NAHL Teams, Most Valuable Player, Forward of the Year, Defenseman of the Year; Vaughn Goaltender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year,  General Manager of the Year, Executive of the Year, Organization of the Year and Apex Learning Academic Achievement Award, Leadership Award and Community Service Award.

Eisele and Erkkila were keys to the success of the Ice Dogs, who before the season was canceled, were in first place in the Midwest Division at 38-11-1-2 for 79 points in the standings.

Eisele played in one game for the Ice Dogs last season and had no points. This season, he finished as Fairbanks’ fourth-leading score with 18 goals and 25 assists for 43 points in 51 games.

Erkkila, in his first season with the Ice Dogs, generated 2-16-18 totals in 49 games, ranking him 13th in team scoring and third for points among Fairbanks’ defensemen.

The all-rookie honors for Eisele and Erkkila also came 13 days after each committed to an NCAA Division I program in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. 

Eisele committed to Minnesota State University Mankato and Erkkila committed to Northern Michigan University.

Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.