No. 6 New Mexico Ice Wolves (8-25-1-2, 19pts) vs. No. 1 Fairbanks Ice Dogs (26-9-1-2, 55pts)
at Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks, AK
Time: 7:30 p.m. AKST (Friday) | 7:30 p.m. AKST (Saturday)
What You Need to Know:
Season Series: 0-2
NMO: 18pts, Dominique (8g-10a)
FAI: 35pts, Johnston (16g-19a) | Koethe (12g, 23a)
This past weekend the Ice Wolves earned their second ever sweep after beating the Kenai River Brown Bears. Their win on Saturday tied their longest win streak of the season at three. The Ice Wolves not only ended 2019 on a good note but they are starting 2020 that way as well. During their first ever weekend series against the Brown Bears, the Ice Wolves scored six goals each night. The most they have scored in a weekend all season. On top of that, the Ice Wolves set a new season high in shots for a game with 57, in their 6-2 win on Friday. Also, their win on Friday was their first win on home ice since Nov. 15 versus Amarillo. In their last three games alone the Ice Wolves have tallied 17 goals and have allowed only nine.
The Ice Wolves have jumped into sixth place in their division thanks in part to their three-game win streak. The Ice Wolves are not the only one with a streak however. Fairbanks has an eight-game point streak (7-0-1) and they are 8-1-1 in their previous ten games. During their point streak, Fairbanks has scored 34 goals and has only allowed 13. They are currently seven points ahead of Kenai, who the Ice Wolves will face on Jan. 24-25. The last time these two teams met one another were the first two days of November. Fairbanks beat the Ice Wolves both nights (2-1 Fri & 8-3 Sat).
OUT THE GATE:
So far this season the Ice Dogs have managed to score the first goal in a game 21 times, and they are 19-1-0-1 when doing so. Putting them in second place with a .929% success rate. The Ice Dogs have not lost a game in regulation when leading after the first (15-0-0-1) or second (20-0) periods. The Ice Wolves have scored the game’s first goal in their last three games. In total they have scored the first goal in 13 games and when doing so they are 6-5-0-2. With the confidence the Ice Wolves have found recently, look for them to come out the gate quickly both nights this weekend.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Ice Wolves (D: #5 – Brandon Holt)
Holt is in his first season of junior hockey and is currently seventh on the team in scoring (1g, 8a). During the weekend series against Kenai, Holt scored his first ever NAHL goal and had three assists. His four-point weekend earned him honorable mention for the NAHL ‘Players of the Week’. Last season the Grand Forks, ND native played for his high school team (Grand Forks Central High) where he recorded 34 points (3g, 31a) in 25 games. Putting him fifth on the team in points when the season concluded. Currently the 18-year-old is tied with Keegan Langefels for most power-play assists on the team (4).
Ice Dogs (F: #7 – Matt Koethe)
The Minnetonka, MN native is in his second season in the NAHL. Last season he also played for the Ice Dogs (59gp, 14g, 22a). Koethe finished eighth on the team in scoring last year with 36 points. This season the 20-year-old is currently tied for first in points (35). The last time the Ice Dogs played the Ice Wolves, Koethe had a four-point weekend (1g-3a). Not only is he tied with Jack Johnston in points but also in short-handed goals (3). From 2016-18, Koethe played for Minnetonka High (USHS-MN) totaling 50 games played (13g, 27a). Last year in the playoffs, Koethe played ten games and produced 12 points (7g, 5a).