26 in 26: Fairbanks Ice Dogs
August 25, 2019
The 26 in 26 series features a look at all 26 teams in the NAHL for the 2019-20 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 26 in 26 looks into each NAHL team and will include video interviews with 26 coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.
Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Head Coach: Trevor Stewart (9th Year)
2018-19 record: 37-16-7, 81 pts. (1st in the Midwest Division)
2018-19 leading scorer: Jonathan Sorenson (56 pts.)
2019 Playoffs: Lost to the Aberdeen Wings in the Robertson Cup Championship Game, 2-1
2019-20 Division: Midwest
First regular season game: Wednesday, September 18th vs. New Jersey Titans
Home opener: Friday, October 11th vs. Minnesota Magicians
The 2018-19 Fairbanks Ice Dogs did what every team dreams of doing, playing in the final game of the season. Ultimately, the Ice Dogs we’re just one goal away from hoisting the Robertson Cup. Fairbanks fell in the Robertson Cup National Championship game to the Aberdeen Wings by a final score of 2-1.
To get to the final game, Fairbanks had to overcome a tough start to the regular season, as they began the year with a 2-6-1 record. The Dogs picked it up over the second half of the season and overtook the Minnesota Magicians for first place in the Midwest Division. The playoffs are where Fairbanks truly shined as they swept the Janesville Jets in the first round, allowing just two goals in the three game series. In the Midwest Division Finals, the Ice Dogs dominated the Magicians on both ends of the ice, outscoring them 17-4 over the three game sweep. Johnstown dealt the Ice Dogs their first loss of the postseason in a 7-2 blowout in Game 1 of the Robertson Cup semifinals but Fairbanks rebounded to win the next two games to advance to the championship game.
“It was a crazy year as a staff. We’re extremely pleased and kind of surprised with our team, with our players and what they did. I don’t think much was expected going into the season with so many newcomers,” said head coach Trevor Stewart. “They just continued to get better and it was fun to see the team grow and perform and be in a position to have a chance to win a championship. Overall I think it was a pretty successful season for us.”
While the success and accolades continued for the Ice Dogs on the ice, the college commitments came along as well. 11 players from Fairbanks earned a NCAA commitment. Eight of those players have garnered Division I opportunities. Fairbanks top three scorers from last season will be moving on to college hockey. Jonathan Sorenson, the team's leading scorer in the regular season and postseason, committed to the University of Minnesota. Luke Mobley who scored 19 goals and 47 points is committed to Clarkson University while Jake Murray, the team’s leading goal scorer, will be taking his talents to Arizona State.
To return to the Robertson Cup, the Ice Dogs will look to their goaltender Mattias Sholl to lead the way. The Hermosa Beach, California native went 17-1-4 last season with a minuscule 1.69 goals against average, which was good for best in the league among qualified goalies. He also had a .934 save percentage, which was tied for second. His six shutouts were tied for second in the NAHL. Sholl was also incredible in the postseason, sporting a 8-2 record with a 1.93 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.
The goal as always for Fairbanks is to win the Robertson Cup, they’ll have a good group of veterans returning and a nice crop of talent coming into the program. “We just want to get good players. Whether they’re a goaltender, defenseman or forward, it didn’t really matter. If we saw that there’s a player that’s available that wants to come to Fairbanks, Alaska, we want to work those guys,” Stewart explained. “We want players that want to be here and those players that want to be here, those are they players we want to work with and help develop.”
Next up: Jamestown Rebels