Ice Dogs Hockey

Ice Dogs forward Mason Plante looks to pass the puck during first period hockey action against the Minnesota Magicians Friday evening, December 6, 2019 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs are two-thirds of the way through the 60-game regular season of the North American Hockey League.

The timing, though, seems to be right for Mason Plante, who’s in his first season in the 26-team Tier II junior A league.

The 19-year-old center from Marshall, Minnesota is among the top-10 scorers for the Midwest Division leaders (28-9-1-2 for 59 points in the standings).

He’s also produced at least a point in seven of the last eight games for the Ice Dogs, who host the East Division’s Maine Nordiques at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Big Dipper Ice Arena.

Plante has contributed 22 points from 10 goals and 12 assists this season.  However, more than half of  his points have come in seven of those last eight contests.

During that span, Plante provided four goals and eight assists for 12 points, including 1-2-3 totals Dec. 14 in a Midwest game against the Janesville Jets in Janesville, Wisconsin.

 “It’s huge,” Ice Dogs coach Trevor Stewart said after Wednesday’s practice at the Big Dipper. “We need those guys that continue to grow and understand junior hockey in the first half. 

“Now he’s considered a veteran. And we need players like him, and others, to step up and not play like a rookie. Play like a veteran and find ways to contribute.

“So it’s big for us.”

Plante, while he’s technically a rookie, is playing on a line with veterans Tyler Deweese (right wing) and Laker Aldridge (left wing). Deweese also is a former West Valley High School player.

“We’re all kind of getting into the flow of things,” Plante said. “I’ve got to credit my linemates, they both have been setting me up great and I’ve been setting them up. We’re burying pucks when we need to and bearing down on all our chances.”

The trio didn’t start playing together until after the break for Christmas.

The timing was good for the 5-foot-9 and 165-pound Plante.

“I looked at it as I’m playing with two veterans players. Deweese has played two years in the league and Laker came up and played last year,” he said.

“They know what the NAHL is all about, and like how to get in open areas (of the ice) and stuff. They’ve just took me under their wings and helped me. 

“Like on the bench after each shift, they explain to me what I can do and  get things going. I just hope it keeps going; I love playing with these guys.”

 

Promotions

Friday night’s game against the Nordiques is sponsored by TDL Staffing. 

A bunch of giveaways are scheduled and fans also can registered for a drawing for an Apple Watch from TDL Staffing.

Alaska Airlines is the sponsor of Saturday’s game.

Fans can registered for a drawing for two roundtrip tickets anywhere Alaska Airlines flies.

Saturday night also is Barn Hopping in Fairbanks.

Barn is a nickname for a hockey arena.

The Ice Dogs’ series finale against the Nordiques starts at 7:30 p.m., which follows the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Western Collegiate Hockey Association game against Northern Michigan University, which begins at 5:07 p.m. at the Carlson Center.

“UAF has moved their game to 5 o’clock start and the Ice Dogs are 7:30. So it will be a doubleheader hockey night in Fairbanks,” Ice Dogs general manager Rob Proffitt said Wednesday at the Big Dipper. “Barn Hopping in the ‘Banks is pretty cool.”

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