Ice Dogs Representation at 2022 Frozen Four

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 8:05 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Juniors hockey is a stepping stone for young athletes looking to further their hockey career, and is a common step in before entering into the world of college The Fairbanks Ice Dogs have two games left in their 2021-22 regular season, but in the college hockey season will be over Saturday, and one team will be crowned the national champion.

All four teams in the 2022 NCAA Frozen Four this season will have some form of connection to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs either in the past of the present. “It’s just nice to see the Ice Dogs family tree, so to speak, continuing to extend all the way to the frozen four teams in the country,” said general manager, Rob Proffitt.

Minnesota State University Mankato Mavericks (No. 1):

The Mavericks enter the Frozen Four as the number one seed, and they also have the most Fairbanks Ice Dogs rostered connections. Reggie Lutz (10-26-36) and Tanner Edwards (30-21-51) each spent two seasons with the dogs in their juniors career, and Benton Maass played one season in Fairbanks, and was a sixth-round draft pick of the Washington Capitols in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

In addition to three former Ice Dogs turned student athletes, Paul Kirtland, is the Mavericks Assistant Coach. He played for the Ice Dogs from 2007-2009, and served as an assistant coach for Fairbanks under Trevor Stewart from 2013-2015. This is Kirtland’s fifth year as a Division I assistant, but his first with Minnesota State.

Michigan Wolverines (No. 2)

The Wolverines are the team with the fewest connections to Fairbanks, but there is plenty to look forward to. Current defenseman, Brendan Miles, will conclude his career in juniors hockey following this season, and will return to his home state of Michigan to turn his dreams of playing for the maize and blue into a reality becoming a Wolverine next season.

“To be honest, I still sometimes don’t even feel like I’m committed there,” said Miles. “It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a little kid. It’s unreal. They’ve had a great team, and as some people say, it’s their best in program history. I’m super excited to get in there next season and hopefully get in the lineup.”

Current Wolverine defenseman, Jay Keranen, had a short stop in Fairbanks. Keranen played three games of his fifty career NAHL games with the Dogs. His primary junior hockey career with the Prince George Spruce Kings in the BCHL.

University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (No. 3)

The Minnesota Golden Gophers have the highest-scoring Ice Dogs alum in this year’s Frozen Four. Jonny Sorenson (26-45-71) spent one full season with the Ice Dogs before making the jump to college hockey. Sorenson is in his junior season at the University of Minnesota.

“The Gophers have one of my favorites,” said Rob Proffitt. " He is just a cool kid all-around. He’s a great athlete and tremendous person. It’s great to see his successes in Minnesota.”

Denver Pioneers (No. 4)

Defenseman Kyle Mayhew and goaltender, Jack Caruso, are the two former Ice Dogs players on the Pioneers roster, but the coaching connections between the Ice Dogs and the Pioneers is surprisingly shocking.

Denver Assistant Coach, Dallas Ferguson, is a branch off of Rob Proffitt’s “coaching tree.” Ferguson was Proffitt’s assistant coach for two seasons from 2002-2004. Ferguson then made the jump to college hockey, spending thirteen years on the Alaska Nanooks hockey coaching staff. Ferguson is in his fourth year at Denver.

The other Denver Assistant Coach, Tavis MacMillan, and current Ice Dogs General Manager, Rob Proffitt were teammates during the 1995-96 season in the West Coast Hockey League.

“Denver is near and dear to my heart,” said Proffitt. “He (Dallas Ferguson) was an awesome hockey player that made Fairbanks his home for quite some time. There is a lot of connectivity with that staff. Head Coach, David Carle, is a former Anchorage guy. So, that’s kind of an all-Alaska staff in my opinion.”

The Frozen Four starts tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. (AKST) with the Michigan Wolverines against the Denver Pioneers, and will be followed up by the Minnesota State Mavericks and the Minnesota Golden Gophers at 8:30 p.m.

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