Defending NAHL Champions visit IceWorks for two games
It was Friday the 13th. May 13th. It was on that day the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Aston Rebels last played each other. While the Ice Dogs locker room was jubilant there wasn’t a dry eye in the Rebels locker room after the game. The Rebels successful inaugural season came to a screeching halt as the Ice Dogs had shut out the Rebels 3 – 0 on that day which advanced them to the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup final. The Ice Dogs had swept the Rebels two games to none and only allowed the Rebels to score one game in the series. As the Rebels cleaned out their belongings and flew home, Fairbanks went on to defeat the Wichita Falls Wildcats to win the league championship, their second in three years and third in six seasons.
Things have changed since then. If the season were to conclude today, the Ice Dogs wouldn’t make the playoffs while the Rebels would be playing in the first round of the divisional semi-finals. The Ice Dogs have struggled scoring goals (83) and have a minus 20 goal differential. But let’s make no mistake about this: despite not having a winning season, this is the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. It is an extremely proud and competitive team and coached by arguably one of the best in the league in Trevor Stewart. Stewart always has his team ready to play, physically and mentally. The Rebels will have their hands full this weekend.
Ice Dogs Overview
The Ice Dogs currently are in fifth place in the Midwest Division. They have an 11-17-2-1 record for 25 points, 26 behind the division leader but only five behind the fourth place team. Fairbanks has won four of its past ten games and was swept last weekend by the Johnstown Tomahawks. The Ice Dogs have scored the third least amount of goals in the league (83) and have allowed 103 (tenth most in the league).
The Ice Dogs are led by Hampus Eriksson’s 21 points (6 goals and 15 assists). He is followed by Hunter Wendt’s 19 points (8 goals and 11 assists) and Aaron McPheters’ 18 points (3 goals and 15 assists). Cayden Cahill, who has fifteen total points, leads the team in goals with nine. He also leads the team with three game winning goals.
Defenseman Marc Sullivan has the most penalty minutes on the team with 78 while forward Grayson Gavin has the best +/- ratio with a +8. The Ice Dogs are ranked thirteenth in the league on the power play scoring on 19% of their chances while they are seventh in the league on the penalty kill for preventing their opponents from scoring 83.1% of the time.
The goaltending tandem of C.J. Boothe and Joshua Sarlo has a combined 2.77 goals against average and .886 save percentage. Boothe is ranked fifteenth in the league with a 2.77 goals against and .886 save percentage.
The Rebels lead the East Division with a 24-5-1 record for 49 points, which is four more than second place Johnstown. The Rebels are 7-2-1 in their last ten games winning their last game 2 – 1 back on December 18 against the New Jersey Titans. The Rebels have scored 112 goals on the season (fifth best in the league) while they have allowed the least in the league with 51.
Andrew Bellant leads the team in points with 29 (16 goals and 13 assists). He is the team’s leading goal scorer as well. Garcia is second on the team with 28 points (9 goals and 19 assists) while Esteves has 27 points (9 goals and 18 assists). Kapcheck and Jansons each have 26 points and are tied for first in the league for most points by defensemen. Blackmun and Maguyon have 22 points while Evgeny Yakovlev has 20 points.
Bellant leads the team in penalty minutes with 97 while Solomon has the best +/- percentage of 25. The Rebels are ninth in the league on the power play converting 22% of their chances into goals while they are second in the league on the penalty kill preventing their opponent from scoring 85.4% of the time.
Goalies Mareks Mitens and Jack Leavy have a combined 1.57 goals against average and a .936 save percentage. Mitens, along with defenseman Gvido Jansons, will be back for this weekend’s series after having played for Latvia in the World Junior Championships.