Ice Dogs sweep Kenai, remain perfect in 2020
In late November, the Kenai River Brown Bears swept the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, the only team to control the ‘Dogs that way this season. Over the weekend, Fairbanks got revenge over their in-state rivals, completing the sweep with a 6-3 win over the Brown Bears on Saturday, extending their win streak to 12 games, while their point-streak increases to 15 games.
With the main netminder Mattias Sholl out with the flu, and back up Austin Ryman nursing a knee injury, Talon Wild received the nod for his first career NAHL start. After allowing three early goals to slip past him, Wild locked in and pitched a shutout the final two periods.
“They told me just to calm down, it is just another Saturday night playing the game we love,” Wild said of his team’ encouragement after the first period. “That helped out a lot.”
Prior to his call up to the Ice Dogs, Wild was working with a Selects Team in Connecticut. An Eagle River native, Wild had his mother and family in attendance for his first career win.
“I don’t have any words for it, it was just an unreal experience, I can’t thank the Ice Dogs enough for this opportunity,” Wild said, who finished with 26 saves. “They are so welcoming; they are the most welcoming team I have ever been on.”
This weekend was the “Stick it to Cancer” series, with the Ice Dogs’ custom pink jerseys auctioned off the player’s back in between periods, with most of the proceeds going to the Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital’s Circle of Hope Foundation. Most jerseys reach over $1,000, but when it was time for Fairbanks’ very own Trenton Woods’ jersey to be auctioned off, the Fairbanks community displayed their unwavering support. A bidding war between two fans saw the auction number reach, $5,000, $6,000 and eventually a whopping $7,000 before both bidders agreed to donate seven grand each and co-own the jersey, totaling the auction to a record-setting $14,000, smashing the previous record of $5,200.
"I was completely shocked,” Woods said of the money raised. “My highest jersey was $1,900 and $14,000 is just ridiculous and it is for a good cause so I am thankful that they contributed that.”
Trenton has committed to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, following his Brother Justin's footsteps, who was also an Ice Dog and a Nanook. After his first year at UAF, Justin was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, and five years later, Justin is officially cancer-free. Trenton touched on the outpouring support from the Fairbanks community for him and his family over the years, and specifically on Saturday, with the incredible gesture.
“I think it is the best community around for hockey, especially the Ice Dogs community, they care so much, and it is just the best place to play in my opinion." Woods added.
After suiting up in 36 games for the Ice Dogs, rookie defenseman Evan Junker had yet to light the Big Dipper lamp. The Elk River, Minnesota-native tied the game at one in the first period, before inflating the lead to 5-3 the following period, with his second goal of the night and second as an Ice Dog. Matt Koethe (16th of the year), Bret Link (4), Oliver Kjaer (18) and Dylan Abbott (3) all found the back of the net in the victory. The only bad news for fans, the Ice Dogs will not be returning to the Big Dipper until March 6, when they host the Northeast Generals. For now, Fairbanks will have a week off before heading Wisconsin to face the Chippewa Steel.