Weekend Preview: Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Fairbanks, Alaska - The Springfield Jr. Blues, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are primed and ready for a Midwest Division Showdown against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs! First place is on the line in this pivotal matchup between two of the top teams in the NAHL.
The Jr. Blues (9-4-0-0, 18 pts) are coming off their first series loss of the season, dropping two of three against a strong Anchorage Wolverines squad. Hagen Moe tallied five points (1 G, 4 A) in the three game series while netminder Ethan Roberts stopped 100 of 110 shots on the weekend. Other goals were scored by Zach Bade, Noah Holt, Carson Jones, and Noah Marino, his first of the season.
And now that the series is over, a quick turnaround and change of scenery finds the boys in Fairbanks against a perennial powerhouse in the Ice Dogs. Over the course of the last four seasons, however, the Jr. Blues have played Fairbanks to an even split in 22 contests (11-11). Heading into this weekend's series, it'll be the first time we have been to the Big Dipper Ice Arena since November 2019.
The Ice Dogs (8-3-0-1, 17 pts) are once again near the top of the standings to begin the 2021-22 campaign. Led in net by veteran goaltender Kayden Hargraves (5-1-0-1, 1.93, .925) and up front by Alexander Malinowski (5 G, 9 A), the Ice Dogs are coming off a weekend split with the Chippewa Steel. This will not be our lone trip to the Big Dipper, however, as we return to Fairbanks for games November 12th and 13th as well before seeing the Ice Dogs here in Springfield in January and February.
Behind the Note:
There are only three active teams in the NAHL with multiple Robertson Cup Championships - and two of them will be facing off this weekend. Fairbanks has three titles (2011, 2014, 2016) and the Jr. Blues have two (1996, 1997). The only other team with multiple titles are the defending champs Shreveport Mudbugs who also have two (2018, 2021).
Special Teams will once again be an area of importance as Fairbanks has the top rated Power Play (33.3%) and 2nd best Penalty Kill (85.3%) in the division. Springfield isn't far behind though, as we rank 3rd in both PP (30.3%) and PK (83.3%).
The Jr. Blues picked up our 9th win of the season on October 16th - the quickest we have won that many games in recorded team history. The previous record had been October 24th, set by the 2015-16 squad.
An interesting weekend of hockey lays in front of the Midwest Division. Six of the eight teams are pitted against each other, while the Anchorage Wolverines and MN Magicians have off weeks. The MN Wilderness and Chippewa Steel, both within striking distance of the Wolverines and Magicians, are faced with a unique opportunity to gain ground in the division without having to worry about the outcomes of other games. We'll see how the division looks comes Sunday.
Both tonight and tomorrow's games begin at 10:30 pm CST, and can be viewed LIVE on HockeyTV! Make sure to get your rest in early as you will want to catch every second of this matchup between two young, strong teams. If you do not have a HockeyTV account, you can follow along on Twitter and Facebook as we update the scores and action throughout the evening.
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