FAIRBANKS—Young, fast and eager to gain experience at the Junior hockey level of competition is the best way to describe the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, who will make their Fairbanks debut Friday night at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
“We’re young,” said second-year Ice Dogs coach Trevor Stewart, who has 16 new players on his roster of 23 heading into Friday’s 8:15 p.m. home contest against the West Division rival Wenatchee Wild at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
“We’ve got a pretty good group of hockey players who are fast, talented and have a lot of room for development,” Stewart said. “Speed is our strength right now.”
Most successful hockey teams are built around a strong goaltending tandem and Stewart feels the Ice Dogs have that in place, with Steve Perry returning for his third season between the pipes and newcomer Kevin Aldridge as his backup.
“Steve gives us a lot of experience back there,” Stewart said. “He’s very capable and I think he’s gong to be a (NCAA) Division I goaltender in the near future.
“Kevin Aldridge has already shown he’s a capable backup,” Stewart added.
The Ice Dogs posted a 6-2 record on their season-opening eight-game road trip.
Perry was 5-1-0 with one shutout, a 1.62 goals against average and .923 saves percentage. Aldridge went 1-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA and a .926 saves percentage.
Defensively, the Ice Dogs have two returning players — Doug Rose and Nick Hinz — to go along with six newcomers.
“We’ve very excited about the six new guys,” Stewart said. “There’s a lot of room for development in these guys and they’re coming along nicely.”
Newcomers on the backline include Niklas Mayrhauser of Austria, Duggie Lagrone of Dallas, Luckas Zet of the Czech Republic, Ben Campbell of Duluth, Minn., Curran Klein of Santa Ana, Calif., and Zack Rall of Anchorage.
Up front, the Ice Dogs have the potential to put up some big numbers offensively, however it might take a while for that potential to come to fruition, Stewart said.
“They have talent and speed and they really like to get up and go sometimes,” Stewart said. “At times that has gotten us in trouble, but we’ll battle through those instances and become a better team because of it.”
The Ice Dogs have four returning forwards in Logan Wendling, Garret Clement, Colton Wolter and Jakob Romo.
Newcomers on the front line include Patrick Newell of Thousand Oaks, Calif., Ryan McNeely of Scottsdale, Ariz., Brett Gervais from Corona, Calif., Kyle Lee of Wasau, Wis., Chandler Madry of Bakersfield, Calif., Devin Loe of Weston, Fla., Jacob Hetz of Pittsburgh, Jayson Angus of Pittsburgh, and Lonnie Clary of Riverside, Calif.
Through eight games, Loe leads the Ice Dogs offense with four goals and three assists for seven points. Lee is next with three goals and three assists for six points and four others have five points apiece.
“We haven’t figured out how to score as consistently as we would like,” Stewart said. It has been frustrating at times, but I believe we’re getting better every time we step on the ice.”
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.