No. 7 New Mexico Ice Wolves (1-13-0-1, 3pts) vs. No. 2 Fairbanks Ice Dogs (9-4-0-1, 19pts)
at Outpost Ice Arenas in Albuquerque, NM
Time: 7:30 p.m. (Friday) | 7:00 p.m. (Saturday)
What You Need to Know:
Season Series: 0-0
NMO: 7pts, Dominique (3G-4A) | FAI: 16pts, Johnston (7G-9A)
NEW DIVISION WHO THIS:
For the first time this season, the Ice Wolves will be playing the Ice Dogs. It also marks the first time New Mexico will play a team from the Midwest Division. These two teams will play one another four times this season, two at home and two on the road. Last weekend the Ice Dogs swept the Amarillo Bulls to solidify their spot in second place. As for the Ice Wolves they were swept by the Mudbugs, but the games were a lot closer than they appeared. If the Ice Wolves can replicate how they played this past Saturday, then they could be looking at their first ever sweep.
THE LIST GOES ON:
While the Ice Wolves are brand new to the NAHL this season, their counterpart for this weekend are far from it. The Ice Dogs have been a member of the NAHL since 03-04 (17 seasons). During their long tenure with the NAHL they have finished in first place in their division eight times. They have won the Robertson Cup three times (2010-11, 2013-14, 2015-16). Also, last season they made it all the way to the Robertson Cup Championship before losing to the Aberdeen Wings, 2-1. In 2015-16, Fairbanks became just the second team (Janesville 2014-15) to reach 100 points or more in a season (49-8-3, 101pts). They have a rich history in the NAHL and are already off to a good start in their 17th season in the “League of Opportunity”.
15 DOWN, 45 TO GO:
This past Saturday marked the 15th game for the Ice Wolves in their inaugural season. Meaning that they have 45 left to be played. While they find themselves sitting in last place in the South there is still plenty of games left for them to climb their way up the division. With tomorrow being the first day of November it is crucial for the Ice Wolves to forget the past and move forward by starting November on a good note. The best way to do that would be to get a sweep over Fairbanks. New Mexico has really started to find their groove ever since their matinee game versus Lone Star. A team that not only shut them out both nights but also tacked on 12 totals goals. That 3-1 loss to the Brahmas on Sunday was a major turning point for the Ice Wolves as they have managed to keep every game relatively close and have been consistently getting on the score sheet. Look for more of the same this weekend.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Ice Wolves (F: #9 – Philip Ekberg)
The Swedish forward has already made a big impact in Albuquerque, NM. Philip not only recorded his first NAHL goal on Friday but also his second. Ekberg started the season with the Maryland Black Bears (6GP, 1A). Last season he played for the Connecticut Jr. Rangers (NCDC) totaling 50 games (14G, 17A). The 20-year-old is in his first and final season of junior hockey and at the rate he is going, he will certainly have Division 1 offers on the table soon.
Ice Dogs (F: #19 – Jack Johnston)
The Saint Paul, MN native is in his third NAHL season, all of which have been with Fairbanks (117GP, 38G, 48A). Prior to playing junior hockey, Johnston played four years of high school hockey with St. Paul Academy (97GP, 69G, 66A). Last season he finished tied for sixth on the team in points (38). In his very first NAHL season he recorded 32 points, good for 11th place on the team. Out of his seven goals this season, three have come from special teams (1PPG, 2SHG). Johnston might not be the biggest player on the team at 5’10”-170lbs. but he will certainly be a player to keep an eye on.