JANESVILLE, WI — Thanksgiving Day isn’t about football this year.
Long, long after most Americans’ leftovers are wrapped up and packed into the fridge, the puck will drop at the Big Dipper Ice Arena to begin another rivalry weekend between the Jets and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
The team departed Tuesday for their second and final Alaska trip of the regular season. With the 30-game halfway mark rapidly approaching, the Midwest Division’s top two seeds belong to the Ice Dogs and their in-state rivals the Kenai River Brown Bears. This five-game trip for the Jets precedes a five-game home stand against these same two teams, meaning there is ample opportunity for this Janesville squad to gain crucial ground on, or perhaps even pass, the two northern-most teams in the NAHL.
A three-game set in Fairbanks begins tonight as the Jets, winners of six of their last seven, take aim at a bitter rival. These two teams have met in each of the last three Robertson Cup Playoffs, and share all of the last three Midwest Division crowns. Four of the NAHL’s 11 NHL Draft picks since 2016 played in this rivalry. The teams combine for three NAHL Organization of the Year titles in the last five seasons (Janesville 2014-15; Fairbanks 2015-16 and 2017-18). Between Rob Proffitt (Ice Dogs’ general manager), Trevor Stewart (Ice Dogs’ head coach), Bill McCoshen (Jets’ president), and Joe Dibble (Jets’ general manager), the organizations’ leaderships have also combined for five NAHL yearly titles. Throw in two NAHL MVPs (Jets’ Jakov Novak 2017-18; Ice Dogs’ Todd Burgess 2015-16) and you have one division rivalry with unparalleled accolades and success.
The opening four games of this 10-game series have gone in Fairbanks’ favor, 3-1. The last matchup, though, and the last game Janesville played in Alaska, was a 4-2 Jets victory on October 19.
Thu Nov 28 | 10:00pm CT
Fri Nov 29 | 10:30pm CT
Sat Nov 30 | 10:30pm CT
Record: 11-11-1-0 (3rd, Midwest)
Road Record: 6-6-0-0
Last Ten Games: 6-3-1-0
Goals For/Game: 2.91 (14th)
Goals Against/Game: 3.30 (16th)
Shots For/Game: 29.17 (17th)
Shots Against/Game: 31.65 (15th)
Power Play: 24.6% (7th)
Penalty Kill: 81.4% (11th)
Top Scorers: F Nick Nardella (23GP—8G-16A—24PTS); F Isaac Novak (18GP—10G-9A—19pTS); Multiple Players (12PTS)
Goaltenders: Grant Riley (8-7-1-0, 2.92 GAA, .909 SV%); Max Miller (1-2-0-0, 3.44 GAA, .861 SV%)
Rostered Commitments: F Jake Dunlap (UMass Amherst); D Grant Hindman (Lake Superior State); F Max Itagaki (RPI); F Parker Lindauer (Northern Michigan); F Nick Nardella (Michigan Tech); F Isaac Novak (Wisconsin); D Casey Roepke (Wisconsin); F Charlie Schoen (Arizona State)
FAIRBANKS ICE DOGS
Record: 14-8-0-2 (2nd, Midwest)
Home Record: 5-3-0-1
Last Ten Games: 5-4-0-1
Goals For/Game: 3.29 (9th)
Goals Against/Game: 2.42 (8th)
Shots For/Game: 34.33 (5th)
Shots Against/Game: 26.58 (4th)
Power Play: 24.5% (8th)
Penalty Kill: 77.6% (20th)
Top Scorers: F Oliver Kjaer (24GP—11G-15A—26PTS); F Jack Johnston (24GP—11G-13A—24PTS); F Matt Koethe (24GP—7G-12A—19PTS)
Goaltenders: Mattias Sholl (11-7-0-2, 2.13 GAA, .922 SV%); Aystin Ryman (3-1-0-0, 2.70 GAA, .878 SV%)
Rostered Commitments: D Dylan Abbott (Minnesota State); F Parker Brown (Air Force); F Luke Ciolli (Army); D Lucas Erickson (St. Lawrence); D Jasper Lester (Air Force); D Trenton Woods (Alaska-Fairbanks)