Decade to remember for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs
From long winning streaks to conquering divisional crowns, the Ice Dogs have seen it all in the 2010s.
Starting in the 2010-2011 season, Fairbanks went 40-15 with 83 points taking first in the West Division. This culminated with them grabbing their first title, behind the duo of Jared Linnell and J.T. Osborn who combined for 71 goals.
"Yeah, I'll never forget I'll tell you that. Just a moment of joy and celebration. Never be replaced, starting back in 1997 when you start down the path." said Fairbanks Ice Dogs General Manager Rob Proffitt after their first title.
The next season saw the Ice Dogs go 39-13-1-0 with 86 points taking first in the division again. They eventually took third in the league thanks to J.T. Osborn once again leading them with 40 goals and 41 assists. Gabe Levin was the dime-disher with 72 assists. Fairbanks then finished the 2012-2013 season with a 39-17 record with 82 points. That year they took second in the division behind the national champion Wenatchee.
That takes us to the 2013-2014 season, where the Ice Dogs won the national title. Fairbanks finished the season with a 45-14-1 record and 91 points. The Golden Heart City team grabbed the championship thanks to the duo of Tayler Munson and Brett Gervais combining for 49 goals. The star of the team was Kevin Aldridge getting 31 wins in between the pipes.
"2011 our first one no one can take it away from you,” said Proffitt. “You always strive to get that first one, but not that you can compare them in so to speak head-to-head because every championship is a little bit different. Very fortunate to celebrate three to this point. That 2014 team, to do it in Fairbanks, Alaska and the work that Stewie put in from when he took over in 2011 just amazing."
By this point, the Ice Dogs have won two national championships and numerous games in the Midwest Division. So that takes us to 2015, where Fairbanks went 40-16-1 with 84 points. Chandler Madry led the charge with 55 assists while Ethan Somoza had 30 goals.
This brings us to another Ice Dogs title, which came in 2016. They went 49-8-3 with 101 points. To put it in perspective, the second team in the division only had 77 points. They were led by the dominant performance from Todd Burgess, who had an astounding 95 points through 38 goals and 57 assists. In fact he led the NAHL by 12 points for all skaters. They also had the top goalie in Gavin Nieto who went 33-5-1 and only gave up 1.71 goals a game.
"Based in our successes, what the players the foundation they laid previous to them,” said Proffitt about the dominant 2016 title run. “That year, they were on point pretty much the whole year. We won that one 2-nothing in the final against Minnesota in '16. They're all unique on their own. That was awesome, that was a team that quite honestly ran the table from when they sat down to the card game, until they were the last guy to get up from the table."
Now while the Ice Dogs haven't won a title since then, they have been one of the top programs in the NAHL. In 2017 the Ice Dogs took second, while in 2018 they once again claimed the Midwest Division and grabbed the regular season title. Skaters like Hunter Wendt led the offense with 44 assists and Tanner Schachle getting 24 goals. In 2019 the Ice Dogs won the Midwest again, going all the way to the Robertson Cup finals.
"Yeah, you know, I'm not very good at taking a step back and reflecting. I'm always looking out the front window, I'm always looking to get better organizationally...a good communicating event at the Big Dipper in Fairbanks." said Proffitt reflecting on the past decade.
The Ice Dogs head into 2020 as one of the top programs, and their bright future continues in front of them.