Ice Dogs announce return to Alaska
Fairbanks Ice Dogs General Manager Rob Proffitt on Monday announced the team’s return to Fairbanks for the conclusion of the 2020-21 North American Hockey League (NAHL) regular season. The Dogs make their 2021 Big Dipper debut on Thursday, April 22 in the opener of a 3-game series against the Janesville Jets.
“Playing in Fairbanks this season has been our goal since day one,” Proffitt said. “The easing of travel restrictions into the state was a major hurdle for us to clear, and so long as there are no changes on that front I’m confident we will skate out of that home tunnel in late April.”
The Dogs will play the Jets April 22, 23 and 24, as well as home games at the Dip against Chippewa on April 30 and May 1, and The Kenai River Brown Bears May 7 and 8. The Ice Dogs play their first games of 2021 in Alaska April 16-17 against the Brown Bears in Soldotna.
“Quite frankly the easy way out would be for us to stay and finish the season in Minnesota, but I’ve never been one to take the easy way out,” Proffitt said. “I’m willing to take this gamble for the Fairbanks community, the sponsors and fans, but most importantly for these players, who deserve the honor of playing in the Big Dipper Ice Arena.”
The Ice Dogs ability to welcome fans into the Big Dipper Ice Arena is dependent upon The Fairbanks North Star Borough’s operational status under its COVID-19 mitigation plan. The operational status is updated daily on this dashboard. With the current operational status of “low-intermediate” attendance in the Big Dipper would operate at 50 percent capacity, allowing 1100 fans into an Ice Dogs game.
“I am excited to have the Ice Dogs back in town and am extremely grateful to the city of Marshall for their hospitality during the pandemic,” said Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward.
“The Parks & Recreation Department is ready and excited to welcome home the Ice Dogs,” said Recreation Superintendent Steve Taylor. “We look forward to them bringing the heat back to the Big Dipper!”
Physical distancing measures will be put into place, and hand washing will be available throughout the Dipper, with mandatory masking for all fans in attendance at the games.
“We want our fans to come enjoy the game and take that one step closer to returning to normal, but at the same time we have to be mindful of everyone’s safety,” Proffitt said.
Ticketing information for games in Fairbanks will be available in the coming days. Meanwhile, the Dogs wrap up their time in Marshall with home games against Kenai River (March 19), Chippewa (March 26-27) and the Minnesota Magicians (April 1-3) in the Red Baron Arena & Expo. Marshall has been the Ice Dogs’ home away from home for the better part of this season. Proffitt will auction off the one-of-a-kind “Marshall” warm-up sweaters worn by the team this season through an on-ice outcry auction during the Magician series.
“I cannot put into words what the people of Marshall have meant in keeping Ice Dogs hockey alive,” Proffitt said. “I will be eternally grateful for the professionalism, the hospitality, and the kindness we experienced in Marshall. We hope to continue that relationship in the coming seasons.”